NATO waves off Somalia blockade

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- NATO is ruling out any military blockade to stop Somali pirates.

NATO's supreme allied commander says the alliance's mandate is to escort ships associated with the World Food Program, and to run anti-piracy patrols. Somalia has a coastline of 2,400 miles.

The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners is pushing for a blockade because of continuing seizures along Somalia's coast, which leads into the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal. Fifteen ships with nearly 300 crew members are being held for ransom.

The association, whose members own 75 percent of the world's tanker fleet, is against arming merchant ships. It says that could escalate the violence and put crew members at even greater risk.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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