October 19, 2008

NATO Ships to Deter Pirates in Aden Gulf

Seven NATO warships patrolling the coast of Somalia are crucial to deterring piracy in the region, Somalia's prime minister said Sunday.

"We are so delighted with the arrival of those NATO ships into our waters and they have our full consent to fight against the pirates," Nur Hassan Hussein told a news conference in Hafun, CNN reported.

Pirates have attacked more than 60 ships in the Gulf of Aden this year and are currently demanding a $20 million ransom to release a Ukrainian ship seized last month with a cargo of Soviet-made tanks, artillery shells, grenade launchers and other arms.

As much as $30 million in ransom may have already been paid this year -- money that is helping finance Islamic militants in their war against the government, said a report from Chatham House, a London-based Institute that analyzes foreign affairs.

The NATO ships are relieving Canadian ships that have been escorting U.N. World Food Program ships carrying food and other relief supplies to Somalia.