Yemen tightens watch on maritime traffic

13:43, July 15, 2010      

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Yemen on Wednesday ordered the coastguard and navy of the Red Sea to tighten supervision on boats sailing off the country's long coasts and regional waters with suspected links with terrorism, piracy or drug smuggling.

In a statement posted on its website, the interior ministry said it ordered the coastguard and navy to carry out coordinated comb patrols along Yemen's Red Sea-based island of Meion and Makha port, in a bid to prevent any suspicious activities in regional waters.

The move came amid growing fears of possible terrorist, piracy or drug smuggling activities off Yemen's long western coasts in the Red Sea, said the statement.

On June 29, Yemen said it prepared to build a base for the coastguard in the Meion island in the strategic Red Sea Strait of Bab al-Mandab with the help of the Djibouti-based French military engineers.

The step came after the Yemen-based al-Qaida wing threatened in February to cut off Bab al-Mandab Strait to prevent what it alleged as U.S. shipments of aid bound for Israel, according to local media.

The government said the base was aimed at protecting maritime traffic in the vital shipping lane that links the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The Gulf of Aden, off the northern coast of Somalia, has the highest risk of piracy in the world. About 25,000 ships pass every year through the canal south of Yemen, between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Gulf of Aden.

(Editor:燕勐)

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