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Sailors capture 9 suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean

MANAMA, Bahrain — An Australian naval team in the Indian Ocean captured nine suspected pirates sought after attacks on a supertanker and a fishing vessel last week, a global antipiracy group said Sunday.

The Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 151 said the suspected pirate skiffs were spotted about 500 nautical miles off Somalia. A team from the Australian guided missile frigate HMAS Melbourne boarded the boats Oct. 15 and took nine suspects into custody.

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The pirates are believed to have carried out attacks on a supertanker and Spanish fishing vessels.

Pirate attacks have dropped in recent years off the Horn of Africa with the increase of surveillance and protection from a 29-nation naval force, which includes the US Navy and Coast Guard and ships from the European Union.

Several task forces are operating in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean region, including Combined Task Force 151.

Despite the presence of international monitors, Somali pirates have attacked hundreds of vessels off the Somali coast, although successful hijackings are few. There have been a string of such attacks in recent weeks.

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