LONDON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Operations off the coast of Somalia indicate the British military is serious about tackling national security threats posed by pirates, a secretary said.
The British navy, marines and auxiliary personnel last week captured 13 suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia. The British Ministry of Defense said attack helicopters and snipers were deployed in shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean before the suspects surrendered.
"This operation off the coast of Somalia is a clear demonstration of Britain's ability to tackle piracy that threatens our interests," British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement.
In early January, British Foreign Secretary William Hague described piracy off the coast of Somalia as a "major international problem" that threatened international trade and efforts to help the war-torn country move toward recovery.
A British Foreign Affairs Committee said it welcomed an announcement by British Prime Minister David Cameron to permit private armed guards on British vessels in the region.
Hague said he welcomed support for military engagement in the region and for extra-territorial courts to prosecute pirates.
The panel noted that while naval operations and prosecutions have resulted in progress, they haven't contained the problem of piracy off the Somali coast.