EU naval force disrupts pirate action group

13:35, May 15, 2011      

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European Union naval force said on Saturday that its warship disrupted a dhow that was suspected of being used as a Pirate Action Group (PAG) mothership since it was pirated over a year ago.

Naval Force Somalia spokesman Paddy O'Kennedy said French warship FS Nivose said the dhow, which is suspected of having carried out several recent attacks in the Arabian Sea and which still has her original crew on board as hostages, was spotted by an EU NAVFOR German Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) earlier the same day. "Once identified, the dhow was tracked on Friday by the MPRA which guided the FS Nivose into position. In the morning of May 13, the French warship and her helicopter approached the suspected pirate dhow and ordered her to stop," the statement said.

During the approach, O'Kennedy said several weapons and two attack skiffs were seen on board the dhow. "As she was considered to pose a very real threat to merchant shipping in the area and after several verbal warnings, the FS Nivose was forced to fire warning shots at the dhow in an attempt to get her to comply," O'Kennedy said.

He said the warning shots were also ignored but the dhow changed course back toward Somalia.

According to O'Kennedy, concerns for the safety of the hostages, who are under constant threat of death or violence from the suspected pirates, prevented the FS Nivose from taking any further action against the suspect vessel but, unwilling to let her go with her attack skiffs on board, the French warship entered into a lengthy conversation with the suspected pirates who were ordered to abandon the skiffs.

"The skiffs were eventually abandoned by the suspected pirates and the dhow sailed off in the direction of Somalia. Without attack skiffs, it is nearly impossible for a Pirate Attack Group to launch further attacks," he said.

The Gulf of Aden, which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, is the quickest route for more than 20,000 vessels traveling annually between Asia, Europe and the Americas.

However, attacks by heavily armed Somali pirates on speedboats have prompted some of the world's largest shipping firms to switch routes from the Suez Canal and reroute cargo vessels around southern Africa, causing more shipping costs.

Somalia has been in strife for the past three decades. Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, it has been embroiled in a bitter civil war for years.

The country does not have a functioning government and the authority of the so-called Transitional Federal Government is limited mostly to the areas around the capital Mogadishu.

Source: Xinhua

 
 
     
 
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