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NAPLES, Italy — Increased patrols by international naval forces have pushed some Somali pirates toward the Red Sea, piracy monitoring officials said.

The shift to the Red Sea takes pirates “out of the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor and, thus, further away from the scrutiny of naval vessels engaged in anti-piracy activity,” according to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center, which falls under the International Chamber of Commerce.

An attack on a chemical tanker earlier this month in the Bab el Mandeb straits, between Djibouti and Yemen, marked the first successful hijacking in the southern part of the Red Sea, according to the IMB.

This year, Somali pirates have attacked 101 vessels, 27 of which have been hijacked. Five of those attacks came in the area of Bab el Mandeb, according to information posted on the ICC website.

International efforts to combat piracy are expanding. Eleven pirates were sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday by the Seychelles Supreme Court, marking the first piracy prosecutions for the Indian Ocean country, according tothe Seychelles Department of Legal Affairs. Another 29 suspects are being held in Seychelles, awaiting trial or return to Somalia.

Russia announced Tuesday it is pulling out of Operation Active Endeavor, a NATO exercise focused on terrorist activities in the Mediterranean Sea, and turning its attention to anti-piracy activities off the coast of Somalia, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti.

“The participation of Russian ships in efforts to provide security for shipping in the area of the Horn of Africa will compensate for Russia’s non-participation in Active Endeavour. Today, sailors’ lives are threatened to a greater extent in the Gulf of Aden than in the Mediterranean Sea,” an unnamed Russian naval general staff spokesman was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

novakl@estripes.osd.mil

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