A Spanish military aircraft which will patrol the waters off the coast of Somalia to protect ships from pirates left on Saturday from Moron air base in Seville, the Ministry of Defence said..
The P-3 Orion plane was accompanied by a Boeing 727 and a Hercules helicopter, carrying 90 personnel including crew, the ministry said in a news release.
The patrol operation will run for an initial three months, which could be extended depending on decisions taken on the international stage.
The move comes after French commandos on Tuesday freed two French tourists held for ransom on their yacht off the African country's coast. In April, crew members of a Spanish fishing boat were freed by pirates in the area after payment of a $1.2 million ransom, according to a Somali official.
The Orion will collect information on the movements of pirates to relay to a European Union task force formed on Monday to work against piracy off the Horn of Africa.
Saturday, September 20, 2008