March 8, 2010 / 5:46 AM / 10 years ago

French frigate captures 35 pirates off Somalia

PARIS (Reuters) - A French frigate operating off the coast of Somalia has captured 35 pirates in just 48 hours, the French Defence Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

It was the biggest such haul since European Union navies started patrolling the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean in December 2008 in an effort to end a spate of hijackings in the busy shipping lanes.

The French frigate, the Nivose, seized four “mother ships” and six skiffs in various sweeps on pirates over the past two days, with a Spanish aerial patrol and two helicopters identifying and tracking down the pirates.

“Some warning shots were needed to dissuade the pirates from fleeing,” the ministry statement said.

They did not say where the men would be taken, though both Kenya and the Seychelles have been prosecuting pirates on behalf of Western nations patrolling the seas.

The coast off Somalia is one of the world’s most dangerous places for shipping. The number of attacks worldwide jumped by 40 percent last year, with gunmen from the failed Horn of Africa state accounting for more than half the 406 reported incidents.

The pirate gangs and their backers within Somalia and abroad have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms.

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