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European Forces Capture 7 Somali Pirates

European naval forces have detained seven suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The German Defense Ministry says pirates fired on one of its supply ships, the FSG Spessart, in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday.

It says the German ship returned fire and then chased down the pirates with the help of other vessels in the European Union's anti-piracy mission.

The seven suspects are being held on a German frigate (the Rheinland-Pfalz).

Somali pirates seized more than 40 ships during 2008, receiving millions of dollars in ransom payments.

But the number of hijackings has dropped sharply in recent months, after the EU, the United States and other world powers began naval patrols in the waters near Somalia.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP