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Spain Says Navy Captures 8 Suspected Somali Pirates

Spain says its navy has captured eight suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia.

In a statement Sunday, the Spanish defense ministry said the frigate Victoria intercepted a whaling ship and some smaller boats. It said a search of the captured vessels revealed weapons and other items that could be used to attack ships.

The Spanish frigate destroyed the whaling ship - believed to be operating as a "mothership" for the pirates - and took the eight suspects on a smaller vessel towards Somalia.

The Victoria is part of a European Union naval force meant to protect shipping lanes off the Somali coast.

International maritime authorities say naval patrols have reduced the number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden. However, pirates have responded by moving further out to sea and attacking ships in the Indian Ocean.

The pirates have hijacked more than 20 ships since the beginning of March and are believed to be holding hostage 24 ships in all, along with about 400 crew members.