NATO looks to beef up anti-piracy mission

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NATO states have asked their military planners to strengthen the rules of engagement for its ships tackling piracy off Somalia after legal restrictions forced some to free pirates they had captured, a spokesman says.
Alliance spokesman James Appathurai said the 28 NATO ambassadors also asked the planners to look into the possibility of an expanded, longer-term mission with a stronger mandate, Reuters adds.
“This is a very serious challenge,” he said. “The military will assess what is required and we will provide forces against that requirement.”
Appathurai said NATO would see if arrangements could be made with regional countries for the detention of captured pirates. It also considered that a UN role in the form of a tribunal could be worth exploring.
Somali gangs have made millions of dollars seizing vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, driving up insurance rates and other costs in key sea lanes linking Europe to Asia.
A four-ship NATO task force would resume operations off Somalia on Friday and continue its mission until June 28 having broken off to make a scheduled port visit to Karachi in southern Pakistan last week, Appathurai said.
The existing NATO task force had been due to conclude its mission off Somalia last Thursday, but NATO decided to cancel its planned port visits to Singapore or Australia and extend the mission due to the worsening problem.
The attacks have continued despite the presence of naval forces from more than a dozen states, including other task forces under EU and U.S. command. Restoring stability to Somalia itself is generally seen as the only long-term solution to the problem.