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 Sri Lanka provides anti piracy protection

Sri Lanka's southern port of Galle has become a hub in the fight against Somali pirates who threaten international merchant shipping, a report in a new magazine said. 

An increasing number of vessels are embarking and disembarking armed guards used for onboard protection as they sail past Galle, Samuditha, a new magazine for entrepreneurs, reported.

This has opened up opportunities for companies providing supplies and services to shipping from Galle, located close to the main East-West shipping route across the Indian Ocean,

Former members of the island's armed forces can also make use of their combat experience against Tamil Tiger separatists to work as private security guards on merchant ships, the magazine said in its cover story.

Samuditha is published by Udyogi Yathra in Sinhala, language targeting entrepreneurs and business owners.

Launched in September 2012, the magazine caters to entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises whose ranks are growing following the end of the 30-year ethnic war.

Sea marshals and weapons hired from Sri Lanka are supplied by Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited, a security company operating under the defence ministry, Samuditha magazine quoted Rakna Arakshaka Lanka chief executive Major General K.B. Egodawele as saying.

The magazine said the threat of Somali pirates who hijack ships has created a boom in the business of vessel protection and resulted in heightened activity in Galle harbour.

"There has been a huge increase in the employment of sea marshals in the last 6-12 months," Egodawele told the magazine in an interview.

"Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the region to authorise the transit of armed guards through their waters for on board protection of merchant ships and fishing vessels."

To support the anti-piracy effort, Rakna Arakshaka now has set up an overseas network of eight land-based and floating armouries in a joint venture with Avant Garde Maritime Services, a private security firm run by ex-servicemen.

Private maritime security companies hired by ship owners to protect their ships are vetted and approved by the defence ministry and are required to provide serial numbers of weapons taken aboard and log ammunition expenditure. There are about 50 such companies operating now.

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