The European Union launched initial air strikes on Tuesday, targeting pirate bases on Somalia’s coast. Pirate commander Bile Hussein confirmed via USA Today that the attack will lead to setbacks for the pirates in the Mudug region of Somalia. The EU targeted speed boats, fuel deposits and an arms store.
Though news of the region has largely fallen out of headlines, Somalia has remained a haven for pirates who continue to make their presence known along the East Africa coast and in the Indian Ocean. The European Union has been the primary backer of the country’s transitional government, and is in the process of arming the navies of the coastal countries to combat piracy on their own. Somalia hasn’t had a functional government in more than 20 years.
Currently, the EU naval force is responsible for protecting ships from the World Food Program delivering aid to the country. The EU has maintained a fleet of between 5-10 warships in the area since late 2008. A March mandate from the EU allowed its navy to attack pirate targets on Somalia’s coast and inland.
“This action against piracy is part of a comprehensive EU approach to the crisis in Somalia, where we support a lasting political solution on land,” said Michael Mann, a spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy chief. “Today’s action is … in line with the new mandate. The EU will continue to remain active in this field.”