EU naval force disrupts pirate action group

21:29, September 19, 2010      

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The European Union anti-piracy force said Sunday it has disrupted a Pirate Action Group (PAG) comprising of six boats along the coast of Somalia.

A statement from the EU Navfor said on Sunday that while executing a patrol along the Somali coastline, the force's crew ship FS DE Grasse prevented the six boats from reaching the shipping lanes on the high seas to conduct attacks on merchant vessels. "On Sept. 16 the helicopter from the EU NAVFOR ship FS DE Grasse was conducting a routine patrol when it spotted suspicious boats on a beach, loaded with pirate paraphernalia (ladders, fuel tanks.. ), indicating the imminent departure to sea of a Pirate Action Group," the statement said. "The following morning, the same helicopter from FS DE Grasse relocated this same group at sea. This time, the PAG comprised of several skiffs and a whaler, a boat of larger size and often used as a refuelling asset without which the skiffs cannot sail far enough to conduct attacks."

According to the EU Navfor, the first skiff of this group was quickly disrupted by the boarding team of FS DE Grasse and was sent back to shore, having removed all the pirate paraphernalia. "The French destroyer then steamed at high speed towards a second position provided by her helicopter to intercept the whaler. Once the whaler had been placed under surveillance, the boarding team of FS DE Grasse chased and successfully disrupted the two remaining skiffs that were still in range," the statement said.

In total, the statement said 12 suspected pirates and four boats (three skiffs and one whaler) were intercepted, two further skiffs fled the scene. "As none of the pirates were caught in the act of piracy, it was not possible to proceed with a prosecution under international law. However, all of the equipment which could have been used for an attack was seized and one whaler and one skiff were destroyed," it said.

Despite having to release the pirates, the naval force said its FS DE Grasse has disrupted a pirate group's action and successfully prevented them from reaching high seas to commit acts of piracy against vulnerable merchant vessels.

Somalia is at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, one of the world's most important shipping channels. The country has been plagued by factional fighting between warlords and hasn't had a functioning central administration since the 1991 ouster of former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.

Source: Xinhua


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