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Pirate gangs still holding 30 captives in Gulf of Aden

WELLINGTON, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Pirate gangs in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia are still holding 30 hostages in illegal captivity, the New Zealand navy officer who has just ended command of a multinational anti-piracy task force said Monday.

Commodore Tony Millar, who had commanded the Combined Maritime Task Force's Counter-Piracy Task Force 151 (CTF151) since August, said the number of hostages had fallen from more than 700 "a few years ago."

Millar said CTF151 had operated successfully under his command, with his staff of 13 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel overseeing 12 ships and three patrol and surveillance aircraft from seven different navies.

"Due to the cooperation of Combined Maritime Force, NATO, the European Union and other nations operating independently, no successful pirate attacks occurred during our time, although there were dozens of reports concerning suspicious or aggressive behavior," he said.

"These could easily have turned into attacks if the counter- piracy forces were not 'on the beat' and immediately ready to respond," Millar said in a statement.

Millar handed over command of CTF151 to the Royal Thai Navy in Bahrain before his return to New Zealand.

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