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US Navy: Pirates fire on US helicopter

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The U.S. Navy says one of its helicopters was fired on by Somali pirates holding a hijacked ship off the coast of Somalia.

The Navy says the chopper was making a surveillance flight yesterday over the Taiwanese-flagged fishing vessel when the pirates opened fire with "a large caliber weapon." The helicopter did not return fire. According to the Navy, the helicopter from the USS Chancellorsville was not hit and there were no injuries.

A spokesman for the 5th Fleet says it marks the first time pirates have shot at U.S. Navy helicopters conducting daily surveillance flights over areas where pirates anchor hijacked vessels and await ransom.

Since seizing the ship and its 30-member crew in the Gulf of Aden in April, the pirates have used the vessel as a base for attacking other commercial ships, including the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama.

The Navy says four other merchant ships and 105 crewmembers are currently being held by pirates near the Win Far.


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