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U.S. Navy, suspected pirates clash

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A suspected pirate pilots a skiff off Somalia on Saturday in a photograph provided by the U.S. Navy.

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(CNN) -- Two U.S. Navy ships skirmished with a group of suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia Saturday, killing one and wounding five, the Navy said.

No U.S. sailors were injured.

At the time, the USS Cape St. George, a guided missile cruiser, and the USS Gonzalez, a guided missile destroyer, were conducting maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean, the Navy said. (Watch report of U.S. Navy battle with pirates -- 2:07)

It was during a "routine boarding" of the suspected pirates' vessel that the naval boarding team noticed the crew was armed with what appeared to be rocket-propelled grenade launchers, said the Navy.

"The suspected pirates then opened fire on the Navy ships," a press release from the Navy stated. "The Cape St. George and Gonzalez returned fire with small arms in self-defense."

Photographs released by the U.S. Navy showed a small outboard motor speedboat with writing on its side with three men aboard. Another photo showed what appeared to be a bullet hole in the hull of one of the U.S. ships, and in a separate photo, a small boat engulfed in flames, with a long plume of black smoke.

Pirate attacks and hijackings are common off the eastern African nation's coast and usually target U.N. World Food Program vessels carrying relief supplies for the millions of people affected by the drought in the region.

Last week, Somali pirates kidnapped 50 Yemeni fishermen off a Yemeni island just east of Somalia, according to Yemen's state news agency, Saba. (Full story)

On November 5, pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades at a 440-foot luxury cruise liner operated by Seabourn Cruise Line. No one was hurt, and the captain was able to get away before the pirates could board the ship.

CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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