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Somali pirates info recorded on database

INTERPOL is compiling a database of fingerprints, photographs and other personal information on Somali pirate suspects to help fight piracy at sea, the agency said yesterday.

The information can be accessed by any of the agency's 187 members.

"Without systematically collecting photographs, fingerprints and DNA profiles of arrested pirates and comparing them internationally, it is simply not possible to establish their true identity or to make connections which would otherwise be missed," Interpol's Executive Director of Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin said at the agency's headquarters in Lyon, France.

Despite international patrols, piracy has exploded in the Gulf of Aden and around Somalia's 3,060-kilometer coastline - the longest in Africa.

Pirates are able to operate freely because Somalia has had no effective central government in nearly 20 years.

Nearly every public institution has crumbled, and the United Nations-backed government is fighting an Islamic insurgency.

Meanwhile, the international community is grappling with how and where to try captured pirates. Many nations are wary of hauling in pirates for trial for fear of being saddled with them after they serve prison terms.

The United States, Britain and the European Union have signed agreements allowing for suspects to be handed over to Kenya for trial. Kenya is currently holding more than 100 suspects from neighboring Somalia.



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