Has the anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia heated up a notch?
For the first time the European Union's Naval Force (EU Navfor) has used helicopters to disrupt a suspected pirate supply base on shore in Somalia.
Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, said he believed “this action ... will further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates' efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows.”
EU Navfor was at pains in a statement released yesterday just hours after the operation ended to stress that the operation was conducted in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1851 and was fully supported by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. It said that surveillance of the area during the action “indicates that no Somalis were injured ashore as a result of EU action.”
At no point did any member of the EU Navfor go ashore. There is a precedence for going ashore: French commandos dropped into Somalia and caught pirates attacking a yacht, the Ponant, in April 2008.
There are currently nine warships in the EU Naval Force and five maritime patrol aircraft.
This type of operation on Somali land was only authorized by the EU last March - on condition that there is no collateral damage - in order to try and stop new attacks being prepared against merchant shipping.