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Piracy latest: US to head new anti-piracy task force

Piracy latest: US to head new anti-piracy task force

Manama: The US navy has revealed plans to form a new international force headed by an American admiral that will combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, reports the BBC. US Navy Rear Admiral Terence McKnight has been named the commander of the new force, called Combined Task Force 151, the US Fifth Fleet said in a statement from its headquarters in Bahrain.

More than 20 nations are expected to contribute to the force, due to be fully operational later in January. The statement did not say which nations would make up the force.

After more than 100 attacks last year, the International Maritime Bureau said increased naval patrols had reduced attacks in December last year. The EU formed an anti-piracy task force in December. Ships from other navies, including Canada, Iran, India and China, are also patrolling one of the world's busiest sea lanes - the waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean leading to and from the Suez Canal. 

In other news, captured Turkish cargo ship Yasa Neslihan and its crew of 20 seafarers have been safely released by its hijackers after its owners, the Yasa shipping company, paid an undisclosed ransom according to a report by the Anatolian news agency.  The vessel had been captured enroute to China when it was captured off the Gulf of Aden in October.  [08/01/09]