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THE Royal Navy swooped on 13 Somali pirates in a dramatic raid in the Indian Ocean.

Snipers fired on the pirates from a navy helicopter in a bid to get them to stop before Royal Marines arrived on speedboats.

RAID RFA Fort Victoria and the pirate dhow

RAID RFA Fort Victoria and the pirate dhow

Only then did the 13 on board surrender.

The Nato counter-piracy task force, led by Southsea Captain Gerry Northwood, intercepted the dhow in shipping lanes off the Somali coast.

She was joined by American destroyer USS Carney on the operation, to find out the business of the dhow, which had been identified as a known pirate ship.

Both vessels manoeuvred towards it, with the intention of encouraging her to comply with the counter-piracy forces, but the pirates tried to get away.

EYE IN THE SKY A navy Lynx helicopter hovers over the scene

EYE IN THE SKY A navy Lynx helicopter hovers over the scene

They were found to be carrying a selection of weapons during the operation in the early hours on Friday.

Capt Northwood is the commander of the counter-piracy operation on RFA Fort Victoria.

He said: ‘This was a well-executed operation by Nato forces to locate a known Somali pirate group that was operating in international shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean.

‘An effective boarding was safely executed by the Royal Marine boarding team based in RFA Fort Victoria and this safely neutralised the effect of the pirate mothership.

‘This firm and positive action will send a clear message to other Somali pirates that we will not tolerate their attacks on international shipping.’

The operation comes only days after RFA Fort Victoria forced pirates to abandon an attempt to hijack cargo ships 90 miles off the coastline of Somalia.