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China is to deploy three warships
China is to deploy three warships in the Gulf of Aden to join an international anti-piracy group off the Somali coast, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

Huang Xueping said two destroyers and a supply vessel will set sail on Friday from their base on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.

He said their mission was to protect Chinese commercial shipping passing through the area, but the Chinese Navy was also ready to work with other countries fighting pirates in the area.

The Chinese foreign ministry said last week that about 20% of Chinese ships travelling through the area were coming under attack. Last week the crew of a Chinese vessel fought off pirates with Molotov cocktails, bottles and a water cannon until international help arrived.

The navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, which has no functioning government to police its coastline.

In October, Russia sent the Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate from the Northern Fleet to East African waters to protect commercial shipping. The Neustrashimy will continue its mission until the end of the year, when it will be replaced by the Pacific Fleet's destroyer the Admiral Vinogradov.

Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships have been attacked so far this year, with around 40 vessels seized.

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