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Russia Sending More Ships to Fight Somali Pirates

Russia says it will send more warships to combat piracy in the waters off Somalia.

The RIA Novosti news agency quotes the head of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky as saying the ships are needed to fight intensifying pirate activity.

A Russian destroyer, the Neustrashimy, is already patrolling the Gulf of Aden, along with ships from the United States, India, and other countries.

Meanwhile, countries bordering the Red Sea are holding an emergency meeting in Cairo to discuss strategies for fighting the pirates. Egypt is concerned the attacks in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean will stop shipping companies from using the Suez Canal, one of the country's main profit centers.

The meeting follows Saturday's hijacking of a Saudi-owned oil supertanker. The Saudi foreign minister has said the ship's owners are negotiating with the pirates for the tanker's release.

The Sirius Star, which is owned by ARAMCO, the Saudi government's national oil company, is carrying about two million barrels of oil worth about $100 million.

The supertanker was hijacked Saturday in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Since then, pirates have seized at least two other vessels off the Somali coast.

Encouraged by millions of dollars in ransom payments, Somali pirates have been hijacking ships at an unprecedented rate. The International Maritime Bureau says more than 90 ships have been attacked this year, and at least 36 hijacked.

The pirates are believed to be holding 17 ships at the moment with some 300 crew members.

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