MADRID - Somali pirates are planning attacks on shipping using detailed information telephoned through by contacts in London, according to an intelligence report cited by Spanish radio on Monday.
The pirates have built up a network of informants in London with access to sensitive data from shipping companies about vessels, routes and cargoes, according to a European military intelligence report that Cadena Ser radio said it had seen.
The pirates receive their information by satellite phone and use sophisticated equipment to locate their targets, Cadena Ser said.
The intelligence report also said that the pirates seem to avoid attacks on ships of some nationalities, including British ships.
It listed several attacks in which the pirates had surprised crew with detailed information of their prey, including the nationalities of those on board.
Cadena Ser did not provide any more details about where the report originated, identifying it only as European.
Western nations have sent warships to try to stop the pirates, who have made millions of dollars from ransoming ships and their crews in strategic shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa that connect Europe to Asia.
They are currently holding about 20 vessels with nearly 300 hostages, according to monitoring groups.
Efforts to fight the pirates have been hindered by the gaps in international maritime law, which have sometimes left it unclear who, if anyone, can put them on trial.
Spanish authorities have disagreed among themselves over what to do with 14 Somalis caught last week by a Spanish warship. A judge tried to bring some of them to Spain while the government argued they should be sent to a court in Kenya.