A private French military firm has signed a contract with Somali authorities to boost security off the country's coast, plagued by high-profile piracy in recent years, the chief executive said Saturday.
Pierre Marziali, CEO of the firm Secopex, said the deal would "strengthen maritime business" off Somalia.
The deal, estimated to be worth between 50 million to 100 million euros (75-150 million dollars) annually for the next three years, comes in the wake of the hostage-taking by Somali pirates of a French luxury yacht, the Ponant, in April.
According to Marziali, the contract amount will depend on an audit of existing facilities in Somalia, and will be to set up a "unified coastguard, creating a comprehensive coastguard information system" and form a special bodyguard for Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.
"These measures mean we can offer a concrete response to any armed attack," he said, adding that any pirate attack would be met with "a return of fire."
"The economic facet of this contract is also important for Somalia, victim not just of pirates but also the victim of huge pillaging of its natural fish stocks off its coastline," the Secopex boss added.
Saturday, June 14, 2008