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Somali forces apprehend five suspected pirates
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Authorities in northwestern Somalia said Saturday that local security forces captured five men suspected of planning to carry out piracy activities off the coast of the region, reports reaching here said.

The local coast guards managed to apprehend the five men along with their weapons and boat following a short exchange of gunfire in the Sanag province, Abdulahi Ismael Irro, a local Interior Minster, told reporters in Hargiesa, the capital of the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland in northwest Somalia.

Irro said at a news conference in Hargeisa that there were no casualties from the gun fight between the suspected pirates and local coast guards, adding that the men were from the neighboring semiautonomous Somali region of Puntland, hotbed for the piracy off Somalia.

Somaliland has not received international recognition for its secession from Somalia since the collapse of the Somali government in 1991. However the region enjoys relative stability and has its separate self-government, flag, police and military forces and currency.

An international conference on piracy in Somalia concluded this week in the Kenyan capital Nairobi . A number of international warships are currently deployed off Somali to fight piracy while the UN Security Council is expected to authorize further actions to deal with the scourge.

More than a hundreds ships have been attacked off Somali coast while nearly half of that figure have actually been pirated but most were released after huge ransoms were reportedly paid.

(Xinhua News Agency December 14, 2008)

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