BRUSSELS – The European Union may expand its naval anti-piracy operations to cover more of the waters off the Somali coastline, Germany's defense minister said.
The Seychelles, an archipelago of more than 100 islands located more than 900 miles from Somalia, has been the scene of several recent attacks.
"We see that the pirates are extending their activities into the Indian Ocean, so the area around the Seychelles should be included in the operation," German defense minister Franz Josef Jung said before a meeting of the European Union's foreign and defense ministers.
Over the past two years, pirates along Somalia's 1,900-mile-long (3,100-kilometer) coast have hijacked dozens of ships for ransoms worth millions of dollars.
The EU flotilla, along with NATO and U.S. task forces and ships from several individual nations, have focused their patrols on the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia's coast, where most of the hijackings have occurred.
NATO said Monday that one of its vessels — the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg — had thwarted an attack on a Maltese cargo ship, the MV Sea Pride.
The EU operation, code named Atalanta, is the first naval mission mounted by the 27-nation organization.
The EU ministers also called on the international community to provide greater support for Somalia's transitional government, which wields little control outside the capital of Mogadishu.
Last month, the EU and United Nations organized a donors' conference that pledged more than $250 million to strengthen Somalia's security forces in their struggle against militants and to stop pirate attacks on merchant shipping.