French warship destroys pirate 'mother ship' off Somalia

30th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

A French warship destroyed a pirate 'mother ship' and 11 Somalis were seized in an anti-piracy operation off the Somali coast, the EU naval force Navfor said on Friday.

The surveillance frigate Nivose found, "stopped and searched a mother skiff and two supporting skiffs, some 480 nautical miles east of the Somali coast" on Thursday, Navfor said in a statement.

The French sailors boarded and searched the vessels and discovered "pirate paraphernalia."

The 11 Somali crew were taken off the three apprehended boats which were then sunk.

The proactive action is part of Navfor's aim to prevent and disrupt pirate activity.

More than 40 such pirate groups have been disrupted in the last two months "showing that the new strategy is working," Navfor said.

An international armada has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia, one of the globe's busiest maritime trade routes, since 2008 in a bid to stop pirates from hijacking commercial vessels for ransom.

But the sheer distance from Somalia of some of the acts of piracy -- sometimes closer to the Maldives across the Indian Ocean than to Somalia itself -- makes it impossible to wipe out piracy in the region.

Another problem for the EU, NATO and other missions in the area is what to do with the pirates once they are apprehended, with little enthusiasm to take them back to Europe for trial.

The European Union offered support on Monday to Kenya and the Seychelles to continue to judge and jail suspected Somali pirates, as Nairobi moves to cancel agreements on their prosecution.

The EU has also opened negotiations with five other countries in the region, including South Africa and Tanzania, in the hope of forging agreements on trying piracy suspects.

© 2010 AFP

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