Russian Sailors Release Oil Tanker Seized by Somali Pirates

A Russian warship was steaming toward an oil tanker that was hijacked at dawn with 23 Russian crew members aboard as it was heading east into the Indian Ocean from Sudan, the European anti-piracy naval force said Wednesday.

The tanker had been on its way to China with a cargo of crude oil worth an estimated $52 million, New York Times reports.

According to the official, Navy forces made the decision to release the Moscow University tanker as they were aware the sailors had taken cover in an area inaccessible to the pirates on board the ship.

"Around 3.00 a.m. Moscow time [23:00 GMT], the anti-ship cruiser sailed out toward the tanker's location to assess the situation using technical equipment. Then the decision on conducting a special operation was made. During the operation, none of the Russians was injured," the official said adding the pirates had been detained.

The official said the crew from the Marshal Shaposhnikov was currently on board the tanker.

A Russian Pacific Fleet task force comprising the Marshal Shaposhnikov, the MB-37 salvage tug and the Pechenga tanker arrived in the Gulf of Aden on March 29 to join the anti-piracy mission in the pirate-infested region.

The Marshal Shaposhnikov has two helicopters and an infantry unit on board, RIA Novosti says.

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