Mauritius gets guards on ships

2010-01-06 16:01

Port Louis - Mauritius gave the go-ahead on Wednesday for its ships to carry armed security guards to deter attacks in the Indian Ocean's pirate-infested waters.

"Looking at the size of Mauritius' exclusive economic zone (around one million square kilometres), the risk that Mauritian vessels might be attacked is high," Foreign Minister Arvin Boolell said.

"We had already taken a number of measures but we also need to take exceptional action because the circumstances are exceptional," he said.

The government had come under fire from the opposition over the lack of security measures in place to protect shipping and cruise liners.

While Mauritian law did not previously prevent armed security aboard ships the latest measures make it easier for ship-owners to do so and the move has been welcomed by shipping companies.

"We had previously made a request to the government and we are satisfied that it has now been answered positively," Thierry Perrier, marine manager at Ireland Blyth Limited, told AFP.

Although Mauritius has not been directly affected by Somali piracy, the island nation has feared for its maritime trade as well as the many luxury cruises that feed its economy.