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    NATO extends anti-piracy operation off Somalia until end 2012

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    NATO has extended the mandate of its anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia until the end of 2012, the alliance's spokesman James Appathurai has said.

    NATO has extended the mandate of its anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia until the end of 2012, the alliance's spokesman James Appathurai has said.

    Appathurai told reporters on Wednesday the decision was based on "the assessment that this mission is making demonstrable contribution to increased safety for shipping and reduced success rates for pirates."

    Somali pirates carried out a record number of attacks and hijackings in 2009. According to the Piracy Reporting Center of the International Maritime Bureau, a total of 217 vessels were attacked and 47 of them hijacked last year.

    In 2008, pirates staged 111 attacks off the Somali coast, seizing 42 ships.

    About 20 countries, including leading NATO member states, India, China and several Arab states, have sent warships to the Gulf of Aden.

    Russian warships joined the fight against Somali pirates in the fall of 2008, when the Neustrashimy frigate was sent to the Somali coast from the Baltic Sea.

    In late February, Russia's Pacific Fleet dispatched a group of vessels led by the large anti-submarine warship Marshal Shaposhnikov to replace the Neustrashimy frigate off the Somali coast.

    BRUSSELS, March 11 (RIA Novosti)

     

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