Singapore shippers welcome EU strike on Somali pirates
(SINGAPORE) - Singapore's shipping association Wednesday welcomed the first foreign strike against a pirate stronghold in Somalia and urged that the campaign be sustained.
"Whilst the EU strike against pirate logistics is long overdue, it certainly is a welcome step in the right direction," said Daniel Tan, executive director of the Singapore Shipping Association, which represents ship owners.
"This effort must be sustained to remove any future pirate attacks. Furthermore, any effective strategy must also address the root causes of the piracy problem on land in Somalia," he said in a statement.
On Tuesday, a helicopter from a European Union armada blasted a stockpile of pirate skiffs on a beach in Somalia's central Galmudug region in the dead of night, officials said.
It marked the first time an international naval force sent to protect the approaches to the Red Sea mounted an attack on pirate assets on land after years of trying to prevent attacks offshore.
A new EU mandate allows warships or aircraft to fire at fuel barrels, boats, trucks or other equipment stowed on beaches, but it is not aimed at hitting the pirates themselves. It also bars the deployment of land troops.
"These criminals have held the world economy and international shipping hostage for more than half a decade," Tan said.
"It is to be hoped that this action by the EU will encourage more pro-active and effective measures on land and at sea."
Nearly 200 ships have been hijacked and more than 3,000 seafarers taken hostage by pirates off Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and the west Indian Ocean, the association said.
Piracy in these areas has cost the global economy "anywhere between $5.0-7.0 billion a year", it added.
The Singapore Registry of Ships ranks among the 10 largest in the world, with more than 3,000 registered vessels totalling 43.7 million gross tonnes, according to the website of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.
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