New anti-piracy centre will coordinate forces, information

Yemen's government says it will create a regional anti-piracy centre to tackle the recent rise in hijackings by Somali pirates. The centre will act as a hub for trading information and for coordinating multinational naval forces.


AFP - The Yemeni government said on Wednesday it is creating a regional anti-piracy centre to battle the growing number of high-seas hijackings by Somali pirates in the area.

The centre will act as a hub for the exchange of information about piracy and for the coordination of multi-national naval forces in international and Somali territorial waters, a Yemeni transport minstry spokesman was quoted as saying by the official Saba news agency.

Yemen has already started work on building the centre which should be completed in about six months, with 10 Red Sea and Gulf of Aden countries taking part, the official said.

Increasingly emboldened pirates using fleets of small, fast boats have carried out more than 100 attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean this year.

Last month, they captured world attention when they hijacked the Saudi-owned super-tanker Sirius Star, carrying two million barrels of crude oil, and demanded a 25-million dollar ransom for the ship and its crew.

It is one of about 17 vessels, including an arms-laden Ukrainian cargo ship, and some 300 sailors currently in pirate hands.

Arab nations on the Red Sea met in Cairo in November and committed to cooperate in the fight against the pirates, but did not announce any concrete measures.

In addition to Yemen, the official said that Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Sudan would be involved in the centre.

"It would be wrong to say that the creation of centre will lead to a regional or international force, because it is simply a technical and coordination centre," he said.

When there are acts of piracy, "it will fall upon the naval forces of the closest country to intervene."


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