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Piracy latest: UN approached to allow pirate hunters into Somalia

Piracy latest: UN approached to allow pirate hunters into Somalia

New York: The US has requested international authorisation for countries pursuing Somali pirates to hunt them down on land, writes the Guardian. A draft resolution that would permit states fighting piracy to "take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace" has been circulated to members of the UN security council. Prior consent for raids would be required from Somalia's fractured government.

The resolution, to be discussed at a security council meeting on Tuesday, highlights concerns that naval patrols alone will not deter gangs from terrorising the busy shipping route. Two Yemeni fishing boats were reported yesterday to have been hijacked, adding to the dozen captured off Somalia since October 24, when Nato sent four warships to the region.

Villages and towns along Somalia's north-eastern coast give sanctuary and logistical support to gangs holding at least 14 ships, including the captured VLCC Sirius Star.
In April French special forces apprehended pirates on Somali soil as they tried to escape with a ransom after releasing a French yacht. But the suggestion of an official policy allowing similar missions has left some countries concerned about breaches of international law.

At a UN-sponsored conference on piracy in Kenya yesterday, delegates from more than 40 countries were grappling with the legal aspects of an earlier security council resolution that allows navies to use "all necessary means to suppress piracy" in the waters around Somalia.

The perils of adopting such measures were illustrated when the Indian navy destroyed what it thought was a pirate ship, only to learn that it was a captured Thai fishing vessel whose crew was still on board.  [12/12/08]