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Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 12:39 UK

Somali anti-pirate coastguard bid

Handout photo from Spanish ministry of defence shows suspected pirates on a capsized boat on 6 May 2009 in the Indian Ocean
Chaotic Somalia's lack of government has allowed piracy to flourish

Somalia has asked the international community to help it set up a national coastguard to help tackle piracy.

Nur Mohamed Mohamoud, of Somalia's National Security Agency, told an anti-piracy summit in Malaysia the government was eager to tackle pirates.

He said an effective coastguard was also needed to protect fishermen from illegal foreign fishing boats and to prevent dumping of toxic materials.

Somalia wants equipment and training, not a foreign anti-piracy force.

Somalia's internationally recognised government only controls small parts of the country, while Islamist insurgents hold much of the south.

Meanwhile, Tanzania and Kenya have pledged to start joint navy operations off the East African coast to tame raising cases of piracy in the area.

This was agreed as Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka met Zanzibar President Aman Abeid Karume met in Zanzibar City on Sunday.

No, you are not welcome to attack our area
Abdullahi Said Samatar
Puntland security minister

In Holland, a court is deciding whether to proceed with the trial of five suspected pirates caught allegedly trying to attack a Dutch-flagged freighter in January.

One of the accused's lawyers said he was a modern-day "Robin Hood" who attacks "ships of rich countries to give the ransom to poor families".

In Kuala Lumpur, Mr Mohamoud told the conference : "We need an effective coastguard to protect our fishermen from illegal fishing, to prevent dumping of toxic materials in our waters and fight shipping piracy.

"We ask the international community... to supply us with equipment and training."

Abdullahi Said Samatar, security minister in the pirate-ridden Puntland region of Somalia, told the BBC at the Malaysian meeting his government would not let foreign forces target land bases used by the pirates, saying that would be like "an invasion".

"No, you are not welcome to attack our area. But we will make a collaboration," he said. "We have to develop a collaboration on the ground."

The UN has authorised foreign military to use force against land bases, but this has yet to happen.

A child with malnutrition at a refugee camp near Mogadishu on 16 May 2009
Somalia's anarchy has led to widespread poverty

The Malaysia conference is also expected to discuss what to do with pirates who are caught, as different countries have different policies.

Some alleged pirates have been put on trial in France and Kenya, while another has been flown to the US.

Some suspects have, however, been set free, with some arguing that international law is unclear on the matter.

A number of foreign navies have been patrolling the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden to deter pirates but the number of attacks has continued to rise.

As of 15 May, pirates have hijacked 29 ships and taken 472 crew hostage this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau watchdog.

International donors at a recent UN-sponsored conference pledged more than $250m (£165m) in military and development aid to Somalia.

UN bodies will oversee funding earmarked for the government, which wants to build a police force of 10,000 and a separate security force of 6,000.

Somalia has been without a stable government since 1991 and the chaos has allowed piracy to flourish.

When first loaded, the map's focus falls on Somalia where most of the pirates are based. Use the arrow icons to scroll left towards Europe and the United States which are both playing a central role in tackling the problem.

Scroll to the right for a story about the Philippines, which supplies many of the world's mariners.

You can zoom in for more detail by using the "+" or "-" signs on the upper left hand side.



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