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Somali pirate raids waning, says EU force commander

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Successful pirate attacks off Somalia's lawless coast have fallen due to the deployment of foreign combat ships in the zone, the force commander of the EU's Atalanta mission said on Thursday.

"Overall, there has been an improvement in the situation for several years," French Rear-Admiral Jean-Baptiste Dupuis said in a video-conference from his command station.

"The number of pirate boats have decreased thanks to the implementation of passive protective measures adopted by merchant vessels" like water cannons and razor wire and the presence of naval forces in the Indian Ocean, he said.

In 2009, the Atalanta force, comprising ships from about 10 nations including France, Germany and Spain, counted 163 pirate attacks in the zone.

There were only 31 so far this year, according to the force. A total of 46 vessels were hijacked in 2009 against five since the start of 2012.

Since 2008, EU nations have deployed between four and seven combat ships off the Horn of Africa to police an area the size of the 27-nation European Union.

The Atalanta mission is part of the EU's "comprehensive approach", which includes financial aid to help give the strife-torn country a functioning government.


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