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Russian Military Says Pirates Likely Dead

A photo of the operation to free 23 captured crewmembers and secure 86,000 tons of oil after Somali pirates hijacked the "MV Moscow University."
Russian media reports say pirates released on the open sea after hijacking a Russian oil tanker last week never made it ashore and are likely dead.

Russian officials said last week that 10 pirates accused of hijacking the "MV Moscow University" in the Gulf of Aden were set free after their capture by forces aboard a Russian warship because there were no grounds to prosecute them in Russia.

Russian news agencies today quoted an unnamed high-level Russian Defense Ministry official as saying the pirates never made it to shore and were likely dead.

The official said the suspects were stripped of their weapons and navigation equipment and, about 300 nautical miles (550 kilometers) from shore, were put into one of the speed boats they used in the hijacking.

The ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

compiled from agency reports