EU Navy cleared to attack pirates on land


Somali coastguards patrol off the coast of Somalia's breakaway Republic of Somaliland on March 30, 2011. Piracy has flourished and turned increasingly violent over the last few years.


Tony Karumba

NAIROBI, Kenya — The military pressure on Somalia's pirates is building. Everyone knows that piracy can't be solved at sea, but pirates can certainly be made to think twice by the likes of warships, armed guards, and now potential coastal and oceanic attacks.

More from GlobalPost: Somalia Pirate Wars

In a statement, the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) — one of three multinational anti-piracy navies patrolling the seas off Somalia — said the mandate of Operation Atalanta has been extended to Dec. 2014 after a vote at the EU Council. But the important point came next:

"At the same time the Council also extended the area of operations to include Somali coastal territory and internal waters. Today’s decision will enable Operation Atalanta Forces to work directly with the Transitional Federal Government and other Somali entities to support their fight against piracy in the coastal areas."

In other words, the EU warships are cleared to attack pirates on land. This is a big change for an operation that began in 2008 with a very limited mandate to protect World Food Program (WFP) shipments to Somalia and patrol shipping routes.

Under the new rules, warships and helicopters are permitted to target pirate trucks as well as fuel dumps and skiffs on Somalia's beaches. It is not envisaged that marines will set foot on land nor that "pirate bases" — which are really just villages with both civilians and pirates — will be targeted.