Germany wants an international court to be established for prosecuting Somali pirates who have attacked numerous vessels, causing a threat to global trade, Reuters reported.

"It needs to be an international authority. No one wants a 'Guantanamo on the sea'," German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said.

He was in Djibouti for a send off of 220 German troops who will be joining a European Union anti-piracy mission.

The German soldiers will provide protection to ships delivering food to Somalia, Reuters reported.

Piracy has taken an increasingly costly toll on international shipping, especially in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest sea lanes. Spurred by widespread poverty in their homeland, the pirates have made an estimated $30 million hijacking ships for ransom this year, seizing more than 40 vessels off Somalia's 1,880-mile coastline.

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China is expected to send three ships on Friday to the waters off Somalia to protect Chinese vessels and crews from pirate attacks, state media said.

The operation, China's first major naval mission abroad, will include destroyers Haikou and Wuhan as well as a large supply ship. On board will be two helicopters and traditional weapons such as missiles and cannons.

"During the escort operation, Chinese ships are ready and willing to strengthen information and intelligence sharing as well as (conduct) humanitarian rescue operations with vessels of relevant countries according to the situation on the ground," said Senior Col. Huang Xueping, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense.

A Communist Party newspaper said the mission would initially last three months.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.