Denmark to deploy surveillance aircraft against Somali pirates

October 28th, 2011 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Copenhagen, Oct 28 (IANS) Denmark will deploy a surveillance aircraft off Somalia’s coast in a bid to tackle piracy in the region, the government said Friday.

From January 2012, a Challenger surveillance aircraft will assist in aerial patrols for an initial two-month period as part of a NATO coalition force operating against pirates in the Gulf of Aden, Xinhua reported.

“Other countries have aircraft there, but it is a gigantic nautical area,” said Defence Minister Nick Haekkerup.

“Therefore it is important to know where to place the (coalition’s) ships,” he added, explaining the need for deploying surveillance aircraft.

The decision to deploy the aircraft was confirmed at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Danish Parliament Friday.

Meanwhile, the Danish frigate Absalon is sailing again to the waters off the Horn of Africa with a crew of 150 to strengthen the NATO mission known as Operation Ocean Shield, Danish news agency Ritzau said.

The Absalon has already seen action in the region and its tour of duty has now been extended by six months. Its arrival means there will be four international ships operating under Ocean Shield as of Nov 1.

With the latest developments, the total number of Danish military personnel deployed in the Gulf of Aden operations will rise to 190, Ritzau said, marking a sharp increase in Danish counter-piracy initiatives.

Ocean Shield has operated since 2008, and been involved in several actions against pirates. But captured pirates are often released for lack of sufficient grounds for prosecution.

Without a functional government since 1991, Somalia has become a home for pirates who have launched numerous attacks on commercial shipping off its coast. They are believed to make millions of dollars by capturing and ransoming both commercial and private ships and crews.

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