Somali pirates attack EU naval warship

20:18, November 08, 2010      

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Somali pirates who hijacked a Panama-flagged ship with 20 crew members in October attacked EU naval warship which had been chartered by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Horn of Africa nation.

EU Naval Force Somalia spokesman Per Klingvall said the Spanish warship ESPA Infanta Christina was attacked on Saturday off the East coast of Somalia by a vessel identified as the MV Izumi, a ship that had itself been pirated on Oct. 10. "The EU warship had been escorting the MV Petra 1, which had been chartered by the African Union Military Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), at the time. This is the first ever attack on an EU warship conducting an AMISOM escort," Klingvall said in a statement on Monday.

During the incident, the Spanish warship increased speed and maneuvered immediately in order to place herself between MV Izumi and her escort.

According to Klingvall, the attack was disrupted and the pirates fled the scene. "Thanks to the quick reactions and efficiency of the Spanish crew, the attack was quickly foiled without injury or damage," he said.

As the attack was carried out by a pirated merchant vessel with hostages onboard, Klingvall said the Infanta Christina had to defend herself and her escort with only minimal force in order not to endanger the lives of the hostages.

After the attack, he said the warship and her escort continued toward Mogadishu, Somalia without further incident.

Naval escorts for WFP ships heading to and from Somalia are vital for the UN agency to continue meeting increased needs in Somalia.

A succession of governments has generously supported WFP operations by providing naval escorts for ships carrying food assistance over the past year.

Since the naval escort system began in November 2007, no ship loaded with WFP food heading to Somalia has been hijacked. Ninety percent of WFP food for Somalia arrives by sea.

The EU Naval Force has conducted 86 World Food Programme escorts and 71 escorts for AMISOM since December 2008.

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.

International military officials have vowed to fight Somali pirates who have moved into the waters off the coast of East Africa, as attacks begin to decrease.

Crews have been successfully repelling more attacks, making it harder for pirates to capture ships and earn multi-million-dollar ransoms. But the pirates have responded more violently.

Many ship owners are investing in physical defences like stringing razor wire and adding fire hoses that can hit attackers with streams of high-pressure water.

Source: Xinhua


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