EU force hits pirate targets on land

EU force hits pirate targets on land

The European Union’s anti-piracy force on Tuesday attacked pirate bases along the Somali coast for the first time, using helicopters to destroy suspect boats.

Stepping up efforts against a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise that international navies have struggled to contain, the EU Naval Force (EU Navfor) said it had conducted an overnight attack on pirate targets using helicopters and surveillance aircraft.

It was the first time the EU had taken its fight against the pirates to Somali soil since its mandate was expanded earlier this year to allow strikes on land, as well as at sea.

A Somali pirate, who identified himself as Abdi, told Reuters that a helicopter attacked the central Somali coastline near Hardhere, a known pirate haven.

“An unidentified helicopter destroyed five of our hunting boats early in the morning. There were no casualties,” he said. “We were setting off from the shore when the helicopter attacked us. We ran away without counter-attacking.”

EU Navfor said it had carried out the attack to destroy pirate equipment, four days after Somali gunmen hijacked a Greek-owned oil tanker carrying close to a million barrels of crude oil in the Arabian Sea.

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