The top US naval commander in the Gulf and Indian Ocean has dampened hopes that piracy off Somalia’s coast can be tackled by attacking bases on land.somalia

Vice-Admiral Bill Gortney said that such a policy would be hampered by the difficulties of identifying the pirates and the risks of harming civilians.

He suggested shipping companies should instead employ armed security guards to protect their vessels from hijackings.

Adm Gortney was speaking on the first day of a conference on Gulf security.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates later told delegates that the US would consider attacking the land bases of pirates in Somalia only once it had better intelligence.

He said that shipping companies had to take initial safety measures, including speeding up when they see pirates approach and pulling up their ladders, AP reported.

The security gathering in Bahrain is being attended by representatives from 25 countries.

The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq will also feature, as will the increasing concerns Arab Gulf states have about Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.



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