Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy praised efforts to fight piracy off Somalia during a visit Sunday to this country in the Horn of Africa.

"Spain has a lot to do with the international community's success against piracy in the Indian (Ocean)" off the coast of Somalia, but "the threat remains present" and "we cannot let our guard down," the prime minister said.

Rajoy, accompanied by Defense Minister Pedro Morenes and Joint Chiefs of Staff head Adm. Fernando Garcia Sanchez, is making his first visit to the Spanish unit in the Horn of Africa.

The 383-person Spanish unit is assigned to the European Union's "Operation Atalanta" and the NATO Maritime Command's "Operation Ocean Shield."

Rajoy extended Christmas and New Year's greetings to the crew of the Spanish navy frigate Alvaro de Bazan, which is in command of the NATO operation.

The prime minister also conveyed holiday greetings and thanks from King Juan Carlos, the Spanish government and the Spanish people.

"The international community is winning the battle for maritime security and fishing activities," Rajoy said, adding that nations cannot "let down their guard" in the face of a threat "that has not disappeared and remains present. We cannot be complacent."

The prime minister said he was "proud" of the mission's "success" because it "reflects the dedication, work, commitment and efforts of military personnel." EFE