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EU force strikes pirates on land

May 15, 2012

The European Union's anti-pirate mission off the Somali coast has for the first time launched an attack on land, targeting pirate supplies on the shoreline.

A helicopter similar to ones used in the Atalanta mission
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

For the first time since the European Union's Atalanta force began patrolling the Horn of Africa for pirates in December, 2008, EU naval forces attacked pirate supplies on the Somali shore on Tuesday.

According to a statement released to the EU Naval Force's (EU NAVFOR) website, the operation was conducted by air and no troops were at any point sent ashore during the attack. Initial surveillance indicated that no Somalis were hurt, according to EU NAVFOR.

In March, the European Council made the decision to allow EU forces to take action against Horn of Africa pirates on land in an effort to inhibit their ability to launch attacks on merchant ships, which have come under fire as many as 1,750 miles (2,816 kilometers) off shore.

"We believe this action by the EU Naval Force will further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates' efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping, " said EU NAVFOR's commander, Duncan Potts. "The local Somali people and fishermen – many of whom have suffered so much because of piracy in the region, can be reassured that our focus was on known pirate supplies and will remain so in the future.”

The Atalanta mission also seeks to protect maritime supply lines bringing much needed food to Somalia from the World Food Programme and the African Union Mission in Somalia.

mz/rg (AFP, Reuters)