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Russia Sends Warship to Somalia Coast to Fight Piracy

The Russian navy says it is sending a warship to Somalia's coast after pirates there seized a Ukrainian cargo ship carrying tanks and other military hardware, as well as crew.

In a statement Friday, Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo says Russia will periodically send its ships to areas prone to maritime piracy in an effort to protect Russian citizens.

Ukraine's foreign ministry says three Russians are among the 21 member crew seized aboard the captured cargo ship.

The Russian news agency, Interfax, reports the ship was carrying military hardware, including 30 T-72 tanks and spare parts for armored vehicles.

Dygalo says the warship left a base in the Baltic Sea Wednesday, a day before the Ukrainian ship was seized.

On Thursday, the World Food Program reported Canada has decided to extend its naval mission protecting ships carrying humanitarian aid to Somalia for another month.

Canada was scheduled to end its naval escorts Saturday, but it extended its mission after no other country volunteered to do the job.

There have been more than 60 attacks on shipping vessels this year in the Gulf of Aden and along Somalia's east coast. None of the attacks have been against WFP vessels because they have naval escorts.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.