Somali fishermen beg end to anti-piracy air strikes

Somali fishermen

Somali fisherman pleaded Friday for international navies protecting shipping to halt air strikes on coastal villages, after the EU Naval Force struck a pirate base for the first time. An attack helicopter staged a nighttime raid on the Somali coastline Tuesday, the first since the European Union authorised such strikes, destroying several small boats that the force said were part of pirate operations.
But fishermen on the impoverished coast said that their boats had also been destroyed, and that they feared being caught up in further attacks aimed to damage pirate operations. “The pirates cannot be easily identified, as they mingle with the fishermen — the boats are the same and the people look alike unless they are armed,” said Mohamed Hassan, a local fisherman in the Harardhere region. “The fishermen are also victims — some of the boats destroyed by the international forces belonged to local fishermen, and we are very much worried that fishermen will die in such operations,” he added.
NATO and European Union warships have battled pirates at sea since 2008, but the EU decided to step up the fight in March by authorising strikes on assets stored on land.



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