Somalia's prime minister calls on neighbors to send warships to patrol his waters

Somalia's prime minister called on neighboring countries Thursday to send warships to patrol his lawless nation's waters after a third cargo vessel delivering food aid was seized by pirates. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi told The Associated Press that his government, which has yet to take control of the country, does not have the resources to protect shipping along Somalia's coast.

Gedi said he would call for a meeting of every country that has an interest in securing Somalia's shipping lanes to organize an interim force to protect Somalia's waters.

Somalia's 3,025-kilometer (1,880-mile) coastline is Africa's longest and the country has had no effective central government since opposition leaders ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, transforming this nation of 7 million into a patchwork of battling fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed militias.

Gedi's transitional government, formed in late 2004 after lengthy peace talks in Kenya, raised some hope for the Horn of Africa country of 7 million. But members of the transitional government have been fighting among themselves in recent months and have made little progress in establishing themselves in the country, spending much of their time in neighboring Kenya.

"Since our coast guard disintegrated 15 years back, still we do not have enough forces to protect the waters and the properties traveling in the waters of Somalia," Gedi said during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Nairobi.

"I want to appeal to the leaders of the states in the region and the governments who have interests in the waters of the Indian Ocean ... to join efforts to bring collective responsibility for ending this very bad piracy," he added.

The St. Vincent and Grenadines-registered MV Miltzow was stormed by six gunmen who forced the ship's 10-member crew to leave the port of Merka, 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of the capital of Mogadishu, the World Food Program said in a statement Wednesday.

Nearly half the total cargo of 850 tons of WFP food aid was on board at the time of the hijacking, reports the AP. I.L.

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