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EU naval forces raid Somali pirate bases

European Union naval forces conducted their first raid on Somali pirate bases.

Eu raid somali pirates may 2012Enlarge
Somali coastguards patrol off the coast of Somalia's breakaway Republic of Somaliland. The EU Naval Forces carried out a dawn raid, hitting attack boats and supplies on Somali pirate bases on the mainland on May 15, 2012. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

European Union naval forces conducted their first raid on Somali pirate bases on the mainland and destroyed several boats on Tuesday, according the BBC.

The raid, launched from one of the nine European warships patrolling those waters, was reportedly aimed at "making life as difficult for pirates on land as we're making it at sea," according to an EU military official quoted by The Telegraph.

The Telegraph reported that a helicopter flew low along the beach with machine gun troops firing on targets below. At least five small attack boats were "rendered inoperable" and the strikes also hit diesel and weapons stores.

Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, the British operation commander of the EU Naval Force, said, "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," according to The Telegraph.

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Attacks on the mainland bases were delayed by anti-piracy forces fearing for the safety of captured crew members. According to the BBC, the Somali pirates have seized at least 17 ships and 300 crew in the Indian Ocean and are currently demanding ransom.

No deaths were reported in the raid, according to the Associated Press.

Bile Hussein, a pirate commander, said, "They destroyed our equipment to ashes. It was a key supplies center for us." He added, "The fuel contributed to the flames and destruction. Nothing was spared."

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The AP noted that the EU is the main donor for the Somali transitional government and also trains army troops. The long coastline of Somalia has provided a perfect refuge for pirates who prey off the shipping routes near the East African coast.

The EU Naval Force protects the World Food Program ships carrying humanitarian aid to Somalia and the most recent mandate allows it to mount strikes against pirate targets in Somalia's "coastal territory and internal waters," according to the AP.

The AFP reported that Somali pirate attacks cost the world $7 billion in 2011, including $2 billion for military operations, guards and protection.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120515/eu-naval-forces-raid-somali-pirate-bases