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Somalis express support for China's naval operation against piracy
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2009-01-09 10:22
As Chinese naval patrols are underway in the waters off Somalia, both officials and ordinary people in the war-torn east African country have expressed support for "the effort of a friendly nation" to curb the piracy menace in the Horn of Africa coast.

China sent the fleet of two destroyers and a supply vessel to the waters in the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast after getting an U.N. Security Council authorization last month.

With some 800 crew members aboard and equipped with missiles, cannons and light weapons, the Chinese fleet has so far escorted four Chinese merchant ships in the troubled Somali waters.

"We very much welcome the efforts by the Chinese government to help fight the criminals at sea and make our waters safer," Yusuf Gelle Ugaas, Somali deputy minister for ports and marine transport, told Xinhua in Mogadishu.

"The commendable work by the Chinese navy will also ensure safe passage for much needed aid deliveries to the people of our country," he added.

Ugaas said the Somali transitional government is fully supportive of the work by the Chinese navy.

"I believe that the Chinese naval fleet will positively and sustainably contribute to eliminating piracy scourge" that has dented Somalia's national reputation, Ugaas said.

Aside from the acclamation from Somali officials, ordinary Somalis have also expressed support for naval patrols by the Chinese fleet.

A Somali writer named Ahmed Mohamoud Dhiisow said: "I think the efforts of China, as a friendly nation, to patrol the Somali coast and fight piracy is in line with its growing power and influence."

"It's logical that it plays its positive role for world peace, "Dhiisow told Xinhua in Mogadishu.

He asked China and the rest of the international community to help rebuild the Somali naval force which he said has the primary duty to fight piracy in the waters of Somalia.

Omar Dahir, a student, who echoed Dhiisow, said: "Like the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed. What China is doing for us now is the least we could expect from it."

With a spirit of cooperation, the international community will surely get rid of the scourge of piracy, he added.

Piracy has run rampant last year off the Somali coast and nearly 100 ships have been attacked in the region in 2008 alone, with some of them still being held by pirates demanding for hefty ransoms.

Given that Somalia has not had a functional government in the past 20 years, not to mention a potent naval force, several countries including the United States, Russia, France, India and Malaysia have also sent warships to fight the buccaneering around the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden on the north of Somalia.

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