EU gives nod to strikes on Somalia bases
Posted Friday, March 23 2012 at 18:55
The European Union has agreed to expand its mission against Somali pirates, by allowing military forces to attack land targets as well as those at sea.
In a two-year extension of its mission, EU defence ministers agreed warships could target boats and fuel dumps.
The BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner says the move is a significant step-up in operations, but one that also risks escalation.
Several EU naval ships are currently on patrol off the Horn of Africa. They police shipping routes and protect humanitarian aid.
The EU says the main tasks of the mission are the protection of vessels of the World Food Programme delivering food aid to displaced people in Somalia, and the fight against piracy off the Somali coast.
In a statement, the EU’s foreign policy head Catherine Ashton said fighting piracy was a priority of the mission in the Horn of Africa.
On Thursday, the commander of AU forces in Somalia, Maj Gen Fred Mugisha, re-assured Somali citizens of enhanced security despite Al-Shabaab Qaeda campaign of fear in recent days.
He spoke after an attack on a displaced persons camp near the presidential palace, killing six civilians.
Al-Qaeda-backed Al-Shabaab officials took responsibility for the assaults that occurred last week.