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EU forces hit a pirate base in Somalia; pirates threaten to kill hostages

The first attack on a pirate land base by the European Union’s anti-piracy force was carried out on Tuesday. The attack destroyed several speedboats as well as fuel and ammunition stores. A pirate leader quoted by a news agency said nine speedboats had been destroyed and a key supply center destroyed.

The EU said that surveillance of the area during the action indicated that no Somalis had been injured and no lives had been lost. It was a “focused, precise and proportionate action”. The Commander of the EU Naval Force, Admiral Potts, said he believed that action would further increase the pressure on the pirates and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows. He added that local Somali people and fishermen, “many of whom have suffered so much because of piracy in the region,” could be reassured that the focus the attack had been confined to known pirate supplies and this would remain the case.

No European forces landed on Somali soil during the operation, but the attack was a significant shift in the EU’s anti-piracy operations and is intended to deny pirates safety on land. The EU anti-piracy operation involves nine ships and five patrol planes and covers the lower Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean along the East African coasts.

Somali pirates responded to the attack by threatening to kill hostages if they are attacked again. According to Somalia Report, a pirate in Haradhere underlined that the pirates had hostages they could use for revenge. “We promise if they attack again, we will not hesitate to kill hostages” Reports indicate that the pirate groups around Haradhere are now moving their supplies away from vulnerable areas near the beach. Somali pirate groups currently hold a total of over 320 hostages from many nationalities, and 21 ships of which eleven are fishing dhows.

Source: A week in the Horn, May, 18, 2012.

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