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US Navy Ship Captures Suspected Somali Pirates

One of the arrested Somali pirates is handcuffed by police upon his arrival in the Port Victoria with the six Seychellois fishermen, 31 Mar 2010

U.S. naval forces say they have captured five suspected pirates after exchanging gunfire, sinking their boat and confiscating a suspected mother ship.

The Navy says the USS Nicholas came under fire early Thursday at 12:27am local time while operating west of the Seychelles islands, in the western Indian Ocean.

It says personnel from the navy ship disabled the pirate boat, and detained three suspects before sinking their vessel. Two more suspected pirates were captured on the mother ship.

Officials say the suspects will remain in U.S. custody on board the Nicholas for the time being.

Also Thursday, Turkish naval forces say they captured nine pirates aboard a boat in the Gulf of Aden.

And in another development, officials in Taiwan say they fear a Taiwanese fishing boat has been hijacked off the Somali coast. They said Thursday that they lost contact with the vessel on Tuesday.

Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships for ransom during the past few years.

Naval forces from the United States, European Union, and other world powers are patrolling the waters off East Africa in an effort to stop Somali pirate attacks.

Maritime authorities have warned commercial vessels to be extra-vigilant of attacks because of clear weather in the region.

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