NATO Thwarts Hijack off Somalia, Seizes Dynamite

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Special forces on a Portuguese warship seized explosives from suspected Somali pirates after thwarting an attack on an oil tanker, but later freed the 19 men.

It was the first time NATO forces found pirates armed with raw explosives. The frigate Corte-Real had sent a helicopter to investigate a distress call from the Greek-owned and Bahamian-flagged Kition.

The suspects fled to a larger pirate vessel without damaging the Kition, but were intercepted by the warship an hour later. The special forces seized four sticks of dynamite, which they destroyed along with four automatic rifles and nine grenades.

The 19 pirate suspects were released after consultation with Portuguese authorities because they had not attacked Portuguese
property or citizens.

Hours later and hundreds of miles away, another band of pirates hijacked a cargo ship, the Greek-owned Ariana.

Pirates are now holding 17 ships and around 300 crew.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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