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The Kenyan navy shot dead three suspected Somali pirates who had attacked a naval patrol off the coastal town of Kilifi, the Kenyan defence ministry spokesman said Saturday.
The exact circumstances of the incident, in which a fourth suspected pirate drowned trying to flee, were not immediately clear but spokesman Bogita Ongeri said the gang attacked a Kenyan navy ship at around 11.30pm on Friday.
Ongeri said the attack took place well inside Kenyan waters, off the town of Kilifi, which is located some 60km north of the country's main port of Mombasa.
“The government will not relent in its fight against piracy”, Ongeri said, adding that he would make more details available after hearing the Kenyan captain's report.
Somali pirates have over the past two years expanded their area of operations south and east in the Indian Ocean to avoid the heavily-patrolled waters of the Gulf of Aden, initially their preferred hunting zone.
Kenya and the Seychelles are the only coastal countries to have agreed to try suspects handed over by foreign navies.
Kenya has since routinely complained the deal was straining an already stretched court system.
Last week 26 suspects accused of piracy were freed either for lack of evidence or because the court said it did not have jurisdiction.
The rulings have raised questions over the future of Kenya's judicial agreement with foreign navies. - Sapa-AFP