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Pirates, warships continue tense standoff near Somali coast

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A battle of nerves continued off Somalia's coast today, as the US and Russia turned up the heat on a group of vastly outgunned Somali pirates aboard a hijacked cargo vessel.

Several US warships kept their vigil and blockade of the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina. A Russian missile frigate steamed toward Somalia to add its muscle to the standoff. And on Wednesday, the Somali government authorized foreign use of force against the pirates.

That was a formality, since Somalia's weak central government holds little sway over much of its territory, or its pirate-infested waters.

The Washington Post reported that Somalia's president Abdullahi Yusuf on Wednesday urged action against the pirates.

Hijackings by pirates are a near daily occurrence off Somalia, and the international community has to date done little to stop them.

But this ship has garnered more attention. In addition to its 20-member crew, it's carrying 33 Russian-made tanks and ammunition, reportedly bound for southern Sudan via Kenya.

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