Somalia: China navy says special forces foiled Somali pirates

China’s naval forces foiled an attack by pirates on a freighter in theGulf of Aden , the navy said.

The statement said 16 members of the Chinese special forces were lowered onto the Tuvalu-flagged ship OS35 by helicopter at dawn yesterday. They placed the 19 crew members in a safety cabin and searched the ship to ensure there were no further threats.

The navy said a distress signal was received Saturday saying the ship was under attack by an unknown number of pirates aboard a single boat.

It then circled the ship by air and sea before launching the rescue operation from the missile frigate Yulin, part of the 25th anti-piracy squadron sent by China since it joined multinational patrols in 2008.

China’s involvement in the patrols is seen both as a sign of China’s growing engagement in the global commons and as practice for its navy in how to operate far from China’s shores.

The mission has also resulted in China building its first military base in a foreign country in the African Horn nation of Djibouti, mainly as a supply and recreation facility for its anti-piracy patrols and peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and elsewhere on the African continent.

The navy says it has escorted a total of 6,337 Chinese and foreign vessels during its anti-piracy operations and intervened dozens of times in cases where ships were either attacked or were being pursued by pirates