Suspected pirates nabbed after skirmish with U.S. Navy ship


The Nicholas, which sunk a suspected pirate skiff Thursday after taking fire, is part of the U.S. military's Africa Command.
By the CNN Wire Staff
April 1, 2010 12:48 p.m. EDT

(CNN) -- A group of suspected pirates was captured Thursday after attacking a U.S. Navy frigate in the Indian Ocean, according to a statement released by the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

The USS Nicholas reported taking fire from a suspected pirate skiff shortly after midnight local time west of the Seychelles, the statement said. The Nicholas quickly returned fire and began pursuing the skiff, which was eventually disabled. A boarding team from the Nicholas subsequently captured and detained three people, the statement said.

The team discovered ammunition and several cans of fuel aboard the skiff, which was later sunk by the Nicholas.

Two more suspected pirates were captured on a confiscated "mother ship," the statement said. The detainees will "remain in U.S. custody on board Nicholas until a determination is made regarding their disposition," it said.

The Pentagon is determining its next steps, and the suspects may be sent to Kenya to be tried in a piracy court there, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Thursday

The Nicholas, based in Norfolk, Virginia, is part of the U.S. military's Africa Command.

The waters off the coast of Somalia -- the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean -- have been plagued by Somali pirates over the last couple of years. To crack down on piracy, the international community has adopted measures including naval escorts and expanded monitoring.

Last week, one pirate was killed and several others were detained after a private security team thwarted an attack against a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship, the MV Almezaan. A European Union naval force was called in to assist the vessel.

CNN's Mike Mount contributed to this report.



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