Germany to send 1,400 troops to fight pirates

26th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Defense Ministry has given the green light for the troops and sailors to take part in Operation Atalanta, due to be launched in December.

Berlin -- Germany may contribute up to 1,400 military personnel to a European Union security mission to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, government sources said Tuesday.

The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine reported the defense ministry had given the green light for the troops and sailors to take part in Operation Atalanta, due to be launched around Dec. 8.

Government sources confirmed the figure but said the cabinet was not expected to take a formal decision on German participation until Dec. 3 or 10.

The newspaper said 500 naval personnel would crew a frigate patrolling the Horn of Africa and the remainder would be commandos providing security on German-owned merchant vessels in the region, the report said.

Defense experts said the figure of 500 included replacement crew for the frigate, which usually has a complement of around 200.

The EU mission is expected to comprise five-to-seven ships backed by surveillance aircraft and will be under the command of British Rear-Admiral Philip Jones.

Two German frigates patrolling off Somalia helped merchant ships fend off attacks by pirates in recent days after responding to calls for assistance.

The current United Nations mandate for anti-piracy operations in the region expires on Dec. 2.

About 63 incidents of piracy have been recorded in waters off the Somali Coast and the Gulf of Aden in the first nine months of this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

In the latest incident, Somali pirates hijacked a Yemeni cargo ship in the Arabian Sea and demanded 2 million dollars as ransom for its release, maritime sources in Aden said on Tuesday.

Pirates also seized a fully laden Saudi supertanker around 830 kilometers southeast of the Kenyan port of Mombasa over a week ago and are demanding 15 million dollars for its release.

The pirates reportedly moved the vessel and its 100-million-dollar cargo to a new location this week after receiving threats from an Islamist insurgent group.


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