E.U. Naval Force Takes Somali Pirate Battle on Land

The European naval forces plan to strike the pirates where it hurts most: home base. 

Posted: 05/15/2012 02:02 PM EDT

The European Union naval force is upping the ante against the notorious, sea-faring Somali pirates by taking their offensive on land.

"We believe this action by the EU Naval Force (NAVFOR) will further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates' efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows," the commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, said in a statement. "The local Somali people ... 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."

Tuesday, in the first ever land attack, E.U. forces shelled a pirate base, destroying five speedboats in accordance with the mission to destabilize the pirates’ resources. The attack was not taken in stride by the pirates, however, who threatened to kill E.U. crew members being held on more than a dozen hijacked vessels if any further attacks were lodged.

"Putting pressure on their business model by destroying their boats and eliminating their fuel dumps will make life more difficult for the sponsors of piracy and the pirates themselves," said the E.U. Council in a statement explaining the decision to take the fight on land.

According to the council, naval forces will focus pirate logistic dumps in an attempt to eat away at the impunity enjoyed by the pirates on land and destroying their secure base to launch attacks at sea. The council says that destroying their boats and eliminating their fuel dumps will make life more difficult for the sponsors of piracy and the pirates themselves.

Earlier this year the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) deemed Somali pirates the greatest threat to maritime security in the world, holding them responsible for up to 54 percent of all attacks. The pirate attacks occur primarily within the crossroads of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Last week, pirates successfully hijacked the largest vessel seized in more than a year. According to the IMB, pirates mounted 102 attacks worldwide last quarter.


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