11 Pirate Suspects Headed for U.S.

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Eleven suspected pirates were being flown to the United States Thursday to stand trial in alleged attacks on U.S. naval vessels off the coast of Africa, officials said.

The suspects were expected to appear in court in Norfolk, Va., for indictment as early as Friday morning, two U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the cases publicly.

The 11 have been held on U.S. ships for weeks off Africa's pirate-infested coast as officials worked to determine whether and where they could be prosecuted and prepare legal charges against them.

Five of those en route to Virginia Thursday were captured March 31, after the frigate USS Nicholas exchanged fire with a suspected pirate vessel west of the Seychelles, sinking a skiff and confiscating its mother ship.

The other six suspects were captured after they allegedly began shooting at the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland on April 10 about 380 miles off Djibouti, a small nation facing Yemen across the mouth of the Red Sea.

Another 10 pirates remained at sea in Navy custody Thursday, captured in another incident when the destroyer USS McFaul responded to the distress call from a merchant vessel. It was not clear whether those 10 will now be released or handed to over to another country for prosecution, the officials said.


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