Spanish and Dutch thwart pirate attack off Somalia

12:45 GMT, January 2, 2009 A naval mission of the European Union (ATALANTA) has thwarted the seizure of a Greek tanker by pirates off Somalia, the Greek merchant marine ministry said on Friday.

"Today at about 9:50 a.m. local time, an attempt was made by pirates to seize the Kriti Episkopi tanker, which was sailing under the Greek flag in the Gulf of Aden near the coast of Somalia.

The crew, in particular, included six Greek sailors," the ministry said.Initially, the ship's captain managed to escape a boat with armed pirates by maneuvering the ship and later the pirates were driven away by a Spanish warplane and a Dutch frigate, the ministry said.Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships have been attacked so far this year, with around 40 vessels seized. The navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the East African nation.@defro

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