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EU may expand anti-piracy mission to beaches
German foreign ministry says bloc is considering allowing attacks on Somali pirate bases on the ground.
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2012 07:27
Anti-piracy operations currently take place in the Indian Ocean but attacks are currently not allowed on land [EPA]

Germany's foreign ministry has said that the European Union is considering giving its anti-piracy forces the go-ahead to attack Somali pirate bases on the ground.

Anti-piracy operations currently take place in the Indian Ocean, but in future the forces could be allowed to attack pirates' arms dumps, boats and bases.

Andreas Peschke, German foreign ministry spokesman, said on Friday that the "limited destruction of piracy logistics on the beach" is under discussion but "no deployment on land".

He stressed that discussions are ongoing and no decision has been made.

Stefan Paris, German defence ministry spokesman, said an EU committee on December 20 called for the force's commander to draw up plans for revised rules of engagement.

Meanwhile, British politicians said on Thursday that the UK government must give official guidance on when it is legal to shoot and kill maritime pirates.

Parliament's foreign affairs committee hailed the government's decision in October to allow British merchant ships in dangerous waters to carry armed guards to protect them from pirates.

The report said piracy was a "major problem for the UK and the international community" and that more than $300m had been paid in ransoms to Somali pirates over the past four years.

But the committee said the government's guidance on the use of lethal force remained "very limited" and that ships' captains needed to know what they could do if they were threatened by pirates.

"The question anyone would ask is that if a private armed guard on board a UK flagged vessel sees an armed skiff approaching at high speed, can the guard open fire?" committee chairman Richard Ottaway said.

"The government must provide clearer direction on what is permissible and what is not."

Ottaway said it was "unacceptable that 2.6 million square miles (6.7 million square kilometres) of the Indian Ocean has become a no-go area for small vessels, and a dangerous one for commercial shipping".

Britain is to host an international conference on Somalia in London next month.

David Cameron, the UK prime minister, announced on October 30 that he was relaxing a legal ban so that British-flagged ships could apply for a licence to carry weapons on board in the most dangerous areas.

Source:
Agencies
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