EU naval mission thwarts pirate attack off Somalia

January 2nd, 2009 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Athens, Jan 2 (RIA Novosti) A European Union (EU) naval mission has thwarted an attempt by pirates to hijack a Greek tanker off the Somalian coast, the Greek merchant marine ministry said Friday. The Kriti Episkopi tanker was sailing under the Greek flag in the Gulf of Aden near the coast of Somalia when the pirates tried to seize the vessel at around 9.50 a.m. Friday, the ministry said, adding that there were six Greek sailors among the crewmembers of the vessel.

According to the minisry, the captain of the ship managed to escape a boat with armed pirates by maneuvering the ship and sending an SOS. A Spanish warplane and a Dutch frigate then reached the site to scare off the pirates.

Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships have been attacked so far this year. Around 40 vessels have been seized.

The navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the East African nation.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in December authorizing countries and multinational organisations involved in tackling piracy to “under take all necessary measures in Somalia, including in its airspace” to prevent “acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea”.

The UN resolution, which was drafted by the US, will be in force for one year.

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