BEIJING (AP) — China dispatched a naval squadron to conduct anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia on Friday after diverting other ships to help evacuate citizens from war-torn Yemen.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the three ships with their 800 sailors and a team of special forces soldiers left the eastern port of Zhoushan bound for the Gulf of Aden.
Since 2008, China has contributed ships to multinational anti-piracy patrols that escort commercial ships and respond to piracy threats.
Earlier this week, China dispatched three navy ships to rescue Chinese citizens and other foreign nationals from fighting in Yemen. They included 176 Pakistanis who were flown home after being evacuated to Djibouti on Thursday.
China first carried out such a mission in 2011, when one of its most sophisticated warships and military transport aircraft helped in the evacuation of about 35,000 Chinese citizens from Libya.
No Chinese have been reported killed or injured in the fighting in Yemen, which now threatens a potentially dangerous clash between U.S.-allied Arab states and Iran.