Spanish parliament approves troops for anti-piracy mission

22nd January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Spain's parliament agreed to send up to 395 troops to the European Union's naval mission to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.

MADRID—Spain will also contribute two navy ships and a patrol plane to the mission under the plan which is expected to receive final approval at the government's weekly cabinet meeting on Friday.

Defence Minister Carme Chacon told parliament the operation will boost security for Spanish fishermen who operate off the coast of Somalia and defend Madrid's "geostrategic and economic interests".

The EU mission is currently under British command, but Spain is expected to take the helm later this year.

Roughly 100 ships were attacked in 2008 by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, a crucial trade route. A fleet of 30 Spanish tuna trawlers operates in the waters near Somalia.

In April, the 26 crew members of the Spanish fishing vessel Playa de Bakio were released after being held for six days.

The government has not confirmed reports that the pirates were paid a ransom of 1.2 million dollars (925,000 euros).


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