European Union naval forces said they conducted their first air strikes on a land base used by Somali pirates.
The attack on the land base is considered a significant development in the war on Somali piracy. Several hundred merchant seafarers have been taken captive by pirates who have seized vessels in the Indian Ocean for multimillion-dollar ransoms.
“We believe this action by the EU Naval Force will further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows,” said Rear Adm. Duncan Potts, the force’s operation commander.
The EU forces were transported by helicopter to the pirate bases near the port of Haradhere. The multinational forces used helicopters from two warships to leave five of the pirates’ fast attack craft “inoperable.”
The EU recently agreed to expand Operation Atalanta to allow forces to attack land targets as well as those at sea. This is the first time its forces have used the new rules to attack a base on the mainland.
"The focused, precise and proportionate action was conducted from the air and all forces returned safely to EU warships on completion,” the EU naval mission said in a statement.
The overnight raid marks the first time since the EU set up its naval patrol force off Somalia in December 2008 that it has taken the fight to the pirates' home base.