[dehai-news] (BBC) EU force 'foils Somali pirates'

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Fri Jan 02 2009 - 13:17:12 EST

Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

EU force 'foils Somali pirates'

The EU anti-piracy task force is the bloc's first such naval operation

EU naval forces have forced back pirates raiding a Greek oil tanker off
Somalia, the Greek government says.

Pirates in speedboats abandoned efforts to board the tanker when a frigate,
jet fighter and helicopter approached, the Greek merchant marine ministry

Earlier France's navy said one of its ships had seized two suspected pirate
boats and was holding eight suspects.

The International Maritime Bureau says increased naval patrols have sharply
reduced the number of pirate attacks.

The Greek-flagged Kriti Episkopi had been en route to Iran when it came
under attack twice by pirates, officials say.

The captain alerted the Greek ministry, which in turn contacted the
headquarters of the EU naval mission operating in the area.

"There were two failed attempts to board and the pirates fled after the
crisis response group was activated with a fighter aircraft, a helicopter
and a frigate sent to the area," a marine ministry official said.

Only two ships were captured by pirates last month, according to the
International Maritime Bureau.

On Thursday the French navy said it had captured bandits trying to seize a
Panamanian-registered cargo ship.

And a Malaysian military helicopter saved an Indian oil tanker from attack
by gunmen.

But on the same day pirates still managed to hijack a cargo vessel with 28
Egyptian crew members on board.

Somali pirates still hold about 15 ships with more than 200 crew members.

There were more than 100 pirate attacks in 2008 in the Gulf of Aden and
Indian Ocean, in what is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

The EU anti-piracy task force set up last month is the first such naval
operation of its kind. India, Iran, the US and China are among other nations
with naval forces off Somalia.

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