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NATO extends anti-piracy mission

Associated Press / June 13, 2009
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BRUSSELS - NATO will keep a counter-piracy flotilla off the Horn of Africa, where international patrols have been key to preventing attacks in one of the world's busiest sea lanes, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said yesterday.

He also said that the alliance would send eight extra infantry battalions - numbering 8,000 to 10,000 troops - to help secure the presidential elections in Afghanistan on Aug. 20. A NATO flotilla has been stationed off Somalia since November. It was joined by a European Union squadron, a US-led task force, and ships from other nations. Their main task is to escort vessels carrying food aid to Somalia.

Yesterday, suspected Somali pirates seized a German-owned cargo ship off the coast of the Gulf Arab state of Oman, the first recorded attack in its territorial waters, NATO alliance staff said.