A French military ship intercepted a pirate vessel Wednesday off the coast of Kenya and captured 11 pirates. The French defense ministry says the pirates are held on the frigate Nivose, which is part of a European Union fleet on a mission to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden.
The action took place about 900 kilometers east of the Kenyan port of Mombasa. Officials said the French frigate followed the pirates after its helicopter helped thwart their attacks on a Liberian-registered vessel. The 10-meter-long pirate boat carried 17 drums, each containing about 200 liters of fuel, and two assault skiffs. Meanwhile, the U.S. cargo ship Liberty Sun is en route to Mombasa, after surviving an attack by Somali pirates Tuesday.
Also, the U.S. crew of the first U.S.-registered ship, Maersk Alabama attacked by pirates off Somalia's coast Friday is flying home from Mombasa after their captain was freed. The U.S. naval ship Bainbridge rescued Captain Richard Phillips in a dramatic operation Sunday, and was then involved in rescuing The Liberty Sun.Since Sunday's rescue operation, pirates have captured four more vessels, a Togo-flagged cargo ship, a Greek freighter and two Egyptian fishing boats. Greek officials say the pirates Wednesday released the cargo ship and its 24-member crew.
Various pirate groups are now holding at least 16 ships with more than 250 crew members.U.S. President Barack Obama has said the United States will do all it can to halt piracy off the coast of Somalia. The French government has warned its nationals to stay away from the pirate-infested Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. There have been dozens of pirate attacks off Somalia's coast this year alone.The U.S., China and other countries have been conducting naval patrols off Somalia in an effort to stop rampant piracy.