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NATO detains 16 suspected Somali pirates

MOGADISHU, Somalia, April 12 (UPI) -- NATO says one of its ships intercepted a boat off Somalia's coast, detaining 16 alleged pirates and freeing 12 kidnapped members of another ship's crew.

The HDMS Absalon, a Danish Navy ship that is part of NATO's Counter Piracy Operation Ocean Shield, spotted the dhow sailboat Wednesday flying an Iranian flag, a NATO news release said. The vessel was allegedly being used as a mother ship by suspected pirates.

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NATO officials released the 12 crew members from Pakistan and Iran after questioning them, the release said. The crew members had been held by the alleged pirates for a month.

"I am glad that we successfully disrupted another suspected pirate attack group and freed hostages as well," said Rear Adm. Sinan Azmi Tosun, commander of NATO's Counter Piracy Task Force. "I am sure that our resolute operations discourage the pirates."

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