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Ship escapes pirate attack off Somalia, Russia says

  • Story Highlights
  • Russian-operated ship attacked with grenade launchers, machine guns
  • Attack triggered a fire on board the cargo ship, but it was extinguished
  • None of the 17 Russian crew members aboard was injured in the attack
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(CNN) -- A cargo ship off the coast of Somalia escaped pirates who attacked it Thursday with grenade launchers and machine guns, sparking a fire on board, the Russian Transportation Ministry said on its Web site.

The pirates raced toward the ship, the Captain Maslov, in a high-speed boat late Thursday afternoon and attacked as it headed from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Mombasa, Kenya, the ministry said.

The attack started a fire on board the Cypriot-owned, Russian-operated Captain Maslov, but the crew members were able to extinguish the flames, the ministry said.

It said none of the 17 Russian crew members aboard was injured in the attack, which occurred about 300 miles off the Somali coast.

Afterward, the Captain Maslov was able to escape the pirates by "maneuvering," and continued to Mombasa, the ministry said. No other details were available.

The ship is owned by Cyprus' Diataxis Shipping Company and is operated by a Russian shipping company, FESCO Transport Group.

The ministry said Russia's Foreign Ministry, the Federal Security Service and the Defense Ministry were alerted to the attack, and the Russian government established contact with rescue centers in nearby Seychelles and Kenya.

The attack was also reported to the Russian naval ship Neustrashimy, the ministry said. A day earlier Russia's navy said the Neustrashimy and a British frigate, HMS Cumberland, had rebuffed pirates' attempts to seize the Danish ship MV Powerful in the Gulf of Aden. It was not clear from the Russian navy when that incident occurred.

The British Ministry of Defense said a crew from the Cumberland had boarded a small boat on Tuesday that "they ... believe had been involved in an attack on the Danish-registered MV Powerful earlier in the day."

Two alleged pirates were killed during shooting between those aboard the small boat and Cumberland crew members, the statement said. A third person, a Yemeni national, died later from injuries, despite care from the Cumberland's doctor, it said.

CNN's Maxim Tkachenko contributed to this report.

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