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Italy begins naval drills off Libyan coasts

March 2, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Italy is to begin annual naval drills near the coast of Libya on Monday amidst fears of terrorist attacks by extremist militants in the region, various new agencies reported.

In a statement, the Italian navy said that the drill operations, known as “Mare Aperto” (Open Sea) were suspended last year as a result of the search-and-rescue mission that was set up after hundreds of migrants drowned off the island of Lampedusa.

The mission, dubbed Mare Nostrum, has now ended and been replaced by a more limited EU mission known as Triton.

Italian admiral, Pierpaolo Ribuffo, the officer in command of exercises, said the operation was not directly connected with the crisis in Libya, where Italian energy group Eni has significant offshore oil platforms and other assets.

He added that the presence of Italian naval vessels in the area could help improve security.

“We are training our ships and our men, that’s all. Our activity has nothing to do with other scenarios,” he told Italian news agency ANSA.