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PAC: NZ lacks capacity to fight Somali pirates - govt spokesman

29 May 2009 4:08 PM

WELLINGTON, May 29 NZPA - The United Nations asked New Zealand to help fight piracy in waters off Somalia but the navy does not have the capacity, a spokesman for New Zealand Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says.

Australia announced on Friday it was sending a warship and a surveillance aircraft to help counter the threat posed by pirates off the troubled African nation.

Mapp's spokesman on Friday confirmed that a request had been received from the UN.

"We were asked but we didn't feel we could make a contribution," the spokesman told NZPA.

He said one frigate was on exercises in southeast Asia and the other had been in dry dock since April 1.

"It was a matter of us just not having the capacity to assist at the moment."

Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said his government's decision would provide a robust and effective contribution to anti-piracy efforts.

In 2008 there were 111 pirate attacks in the region with 42 successful hijackings.

There have been about 100 attacks, including 25 successful hijackings, so far this year.