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Germany to sanction use of private security forces against Somali pirates

(Xinhua)

08:57, August 19, 2011

BERLIN, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- German ships sailing in the western Indian Ocean will soon be authorized to use private armed guards to protect themselves against Somali pirates in the absence of German naval escorts, officials said on Wednesday.

It is estimated that a third of German ships sailing off the east African coast already deploy private security forces on board.

"The traffic lights for deployment of security forces have gone from red to amber, but are not green yet," said Hans-Joachim Otto, the government's coordinator of maritime industry policy, stressing that an International Maritime Organization (IMO) vote next month is crucial to the final decision.

"It's a global problem and should get a global solution. The world consensus is moving towards private security guards," he added.

German police trade unions feel one solution to the problem is establishing a marine police unit staffed by former German soldiers, according to Bernhard Witthaut, chairman of the German Police Union.

German media reported 163 pirate attacks near the Horn of Africa in the first half of this year, with 21 vessels being held for ransom.

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