Berlin extends Mediterraneananti-terror mission
17 March 2004
BERLIN – With renewed concerns in Europe about terrorism in the wake of the Madrid bombings, the German Defence Ministry said Wednesday it was extending a navy anti-terror mission in the western Mediterranean at the request of NATO.
Meanwhile, Spain is to reinforce security on a large scale for fear of new attacks after suspected Islamic terrorists killed 201 people in Madrid on March 11, outgoing Interior Minister Angel Acebes and prime minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Wednesday.
Acebes said the outgoing conservative government adopted a plan to protect railway stations, airports, ports, sports events, entertainment venues and infrastructure such as transports and telecommunications.
Berlin’s decision means that three German fast patrol boats and a supply ship will leave a Baltic naval port 8 April to replace patrol boats which had been due to end their mission at the end of this month, a defence ministry spokesman said.
The patrol boats, which accompany non-military ships from NATO member states through the Straits of Gibraltar, will remain on active duty through June, the spokesman said.
NATO member states fear terrorist attacks could be carried out on ships passing through the narrow straits linking the Mediterranean with the Atlantic.
Germany has separately deployed a frigate and an oiler in the eastern Mediterranean under NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour which was launched in October 2001, one month after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Eleven allied ships are currently on duty in the eastern Mediterranean and nine ships are stationed in the Straits of Gibraltar.
Since the mission began, 41,000 ships have been contacted by the NATO vessels and 47 have been boarded, alliance officials in Brussels said.
In announcing the new measures in Spain, Acebes said Madrid would coordinate its measures with other European Union countries which have also stepped up security
Subject: German News