Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Navy hands over pirate suspects

Minister Bob Ainsworth praised the capture of suspected pirates

The Royal Navy has handed over eight suspected Somali pirates to the Kenyan authorities, Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth has said.

They were captured by Royal Marines from Plymouth-based HMS Cumberland in the Gulf of Aden last Tuesday.

The MoD said the suspects were on a fishing dhow which had been seen taking part in an attack on the Danish ship MV Powerful earlier in the day.

Two suspected pirates were shot dead in the operation.

Mr Ainsworth, speaking in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, said: "This is clear evidence that we will take every opportunity to combat the pirates who disrupt legitimate trade and add significant costs to goods UK consumers rely on.

"We are sending a strong message to pirates that their activities will not be tolerated and that the global community is united in its efforts to deter and disrupt them."

Rising attacks

He thanked the Kenyan government for agreeing to put the eight suspects on trial.

HMS Cumberland is currently on a Nato-led deployment in the Gulf of Aden, helping to combat piracy after a recent rise in attacks on merchant shipping in the region.

The Russian frigate Neustrashimy was also involved in the operation to capture the suspects.

The Russian navy said pirates fired weapons at the Danish vessel and twice tried to board it before the two warships intervened.

The handover of the suspects follows the seizure in a separate incident over the weekend of the biggest vessel to be hijacked by Somali pirates, the giant Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star.

Mr Ainsworth said the capture of the Sirius Star so far out to sea represented a "step change in capability for the pirates".

The minister is in the east African country to work on the defence ties between Kenya and the UK.

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