MANAMA, Feb 11 (Reuters) - A multinational naval force seized seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday in the first such action in its anti-piracy campaign, the U.S. Navy said.
Personnel from the U.S. guided missile cruiser Vella Gulf detained the seven after responding to a distress call from a merchant vessel, a Navy statement said.
"The event marks the first time (the multinational task force) CTF-151 has apprehended suspected pirates," it said.
The U.S. Navy announced last month the fornmation of the new task force dedicated to combating piracy in the region.
Pirates have been seizing vessels in the Gulf of Aden, which connects Europe to Asia and the Middle East via the Suez Canal, hijacking dozens of ships last year and taking tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments.
Foreign navies, including those of China and European Union countries, deployed in response to the threat and the effort has reduced the number of successful hijackings, although a tanker was seized on Jan. 29.
The Combined Task Force 150, with about eight ships, includes U.S. vessels and others from Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and Pakistan. (Writing by Firouz Sedarat; Editing by Angus MacSwan)