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Britain to Approve Armed Guards for Horn of Africa Shipping

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, October 23, 2011.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, October 23, 2011.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says British-flagged merchant ships sailing the Horn of Africa will be authorized to carry armed guards to ward off pirates.

Cameron, speaking Sunday on British television, said shipping companies will soon be able to apply for a government license for guards and weapons for use near the coast of Somalia.

Under the plan, weapons use would also be permitted in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean have in recent years seized scores of international cargo ships and commercial vessels and collected tens of millions of dollars in ransom from shipping companies.

Sunday, Cameron referred to the Somali piracy as "a complete insult" to world governments and said evidence shows that companies deploying armed guards suffer fewer attacks and pay less ransom.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.