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Three people have been killed in a shootout between pirates onboard
Three people have been killed in a shootout between pirates onboard a Ukrainian ship seized off the Somali coast last week, the Vesti TV channel said on Tuesday.

None of the ship's crew, currently being held hostage by the pirates, was injured during the shootout. However, the ship's captain, Russian national Vladimir Kolobkov, earlier died of a heart attack. (Video)

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry earlier cited the ship's owner, Tomax Team Inc., as saying there were three Russians, 17 Ukrainians and one Latvian on board the Faina when it was seized.

The ship was carrying 33 T-72 tanks and other military equipment, reported as on their way to Kenya. However, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, Lt Nathan Christensen, has said that, "We are aware that the actual cargo was intended for Sudan, not Kenya."

Both the Ukrainians and the Kenyan authorities have denied this.

The U.S. has sent destroyers and other vessels to the region to surround the hijacked ship to prevent the weapons from "falling into the wrong hands".

A U.S. Navy spokesman said that the USS Howard destroyer "is in visual range of MV Faina, which is anchored off the Somalia coast near the harbor city of Hobyo."

"My crew is actively monitoring the situation, keeping constant watch on the vessel and the waters in the immediate vicinity," the spokesman said.

The Russian navy said on Saturday that it had sent the Neustrashimy (Fearless) warship to the region.

The pirates are demanding $20 million for the release of the ship.


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