VICTORIA (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Wednesday it would be deploying unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in the skies above the Seychelles archipelago to bolster anti-piracy patrols.
Maritime security groups warned in May of an increase in the number of pirate “mother ships” operating in Seychellois waters.
Piracy has increased off the Somali coast, where sea gangs defy foreign navies monitoring the vast shipping lanes linking Asia and Europe, although monsoon rains have caused a lull in attacks.
“We have the recent arrival of our P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft that will aid in conducting the surveillance of Seychelles territorial waters and as we look into the future, (we will) bring unmanned surveillance vehicles,” said General William Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
Two vessels flying the Indian Ocean nation’s flag have been hijacked this year while in April an Italian cruise ship fended off an assault in Seychelles’ waters.
Piracy attacks worldwide more than doubled to 240 during the first half of 2009, driven by a surge in hijackings in the waters off the Horn of Africa, according to an International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center report in July.
Writing by Richard Lough; editing by Alison Williams
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