EU anti-piracy force strikes Somali targets

European antipiracy troops carried out their first air attack on mainland Somalia, strafing a beach from a low-flying helicopter and destroying pirates’ boats, fuel supplies and an arms cache.

The attack is likely to lead to an intensification of the campaign against the illicit multi-million pound trade that is damaging international trade, naval intelligence sources have warned. The dawn raid, launched from one of nine European warships patrolling off Somalia, was aimed at “making life as difficult for pirates on land as we’re making it at sea”, an EU military official said. A helicopter flew low along the beach with a door gunner on mounted machine gun troops firing at the targets below. The operation was ordered after weeks of surveillance from maritime patrol aircraft and other surveillance aircraft circling above the pirates’ known hideouts.

Five small attack boats with powerful outboard engines were “rendered inoperable” and pirates said that the strike also hit drums of diesel and a weapons store. It is the first time that European military units have been ordered to attack pirates on land, and follows an EU ruling two months ago allowing “disruptive action against known pirate supplies on the shore”.

“We believe this action will further increase the pressure on [pirates], and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows,” said Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, the British operation commander of the EU Naval Force.


Categories: Africa, Europe

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