EU force extends patrol area in Somali pirate hunt

LONDON Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:54pm EDT

French forces escort suspected Somali pirates captured in the Gulf of Aden, at the northern port town of Bosasso March 13, 2010. REUTERS/Abdiqani Hassan

French forces escort suspected Somali pirates captured in the Gulf of Aden, at the northern port town of Bosasso March 13, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Abdiqani Hassan

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union's anti-piracy task force is expanding its area of operations to counter the increasing reach of Somali pirates, the naval body said on Wednesday.

EU NAVFOR patrols currently cover the Gulf of Aden, the Somali coast and parts of the Indian Ocean, and a spokesman said this range would be extended further beyond the Seychelles.

"This procedural change will allow EU NAVFOR units to operate more effectively further east in the Indian Ocean, giving them a greater ability to disrupt and deter pirates in this vast area,", Major General Buster Howes, operation commander of EU NAVFOR Somalia, said in a statement.

A NAVFOR spokesman declined to provide further details on the extent and location of future patrols, citing the need to maintain operational security and effectiveness against pirates.

Somali pirates hijack vessels and make tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, despite an international flotilla of warships patrolling the waters off largely lawless Somalia.