MPs approve anti-piracy measures, armed guards on merchant ships

MPs on Tuesday approved a bill that will permit armed security guards aboard merchant vessels sailing under the Dutch flag. The shipping sector had been demanding the anti-piracy measure for more than 10 years, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday.

If approved by the upper house at a later date, Dutch merchant ships will join those from other seafaring nations in carrying private armed security guards in waters where pirates abound, such as off the coast of the East African state of Somalia.

Merchant marine vessels will also continue to be able to obtain assistance from Dutch naval ships stationed in the area. Scores of ships of all nations have been seized and then ransomed by Somali pirates over the years.

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