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Monday, March 30, 2015, 12:13

Fleet sent to evacuate nationals from Yemen

By Agencies
Fleet sent to evacuate nationals from Yemen

The Chinese navy fleet conducting escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters are pictured in this Dec 26, 2014 file photo. (Photo / Chinanews.com)

BEIJING - China has sent a naval fleet to help evacuate its nationals from conflict-ridden Yemen as the situation continues to get worse, the Ministry of National Defense announced on Monday.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy fleet, which had been carrying out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, was dispatched for the evacuation on Sunday, according to the ministry.

The decision was made by the Chinese government in order to protect the safety of Chinese nationals and their property, a statement announcing the deployment said.

Three Chinese navy ships were diverted to the port of Aden to rescue about 500 Chinese nationals caught in the conflict, state media reported on Monday, marking only the second time Chinese military assets have been used in such a mission.

China took the unprecedented step of dispatching one of its most sophisticated warships and military transport aircraft to help in the evacuation of about 35,000 Chinese citizens amid Libya's civil war in 2011.

No Chinese have been reported killed or injured in the fighting in Yemen that now threatens a potentially dangerous clash between US-allied Arab states and Iran.

The official China Shipowners' Association said on its website that it had been notified that China was temporarily halting its participation in multinational patrols in the Gulf of Aden aimed at countering Somali pirates.

The notice said it wasn't clear when the anti-piracy patrols would resume and Defense Ministry spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment.

China joined the patrols in December 2008 and has sent a total of 19 squadrons to maintain an unbroken presence in the area.

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