French marines takes back yacht
Apr 14, 2008
French marines have captured most of the pirates who seized the cruise yacht Le Ponant off the northern Somali coast a week ago.
The crew of the yacht, which is owned and operated by French shipping company CMA CGM, was released by the pirates after, it is believed, a ransom has been paid over.
The crew was taken by the French to Djibouti for repatriation back to France. The pirates meanwhile remained on board the vessel along with the ship’s master, Patrick Marchesseau who remained as a hostage until the ransom was paid. The French military had meanwhile set up a monitoring position.
Once the ransom was paid and with the pirates showing signs of leaving the scene (a small village on the coast of Puntland in northern Somalia), the French marines attacked, using helicopters to prevent the pirates from making a getaway by motor vehicle. French sources claimed no-one was injured but independent reports suggest that several of the pirates and other Somalis villagers who had gathered nearby were either killed or injured.
In France the rescued crew, consisting of 22 French nationals, six Filipinos, a Cameroonian and a Ukrainian were taken to the Elysée Palace for a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and CMA CGM chairman Jacques Saade. The captured pirates meanwhile are being held on the board French Navy helicopter carrier FNS Jeanne d’Arc off the Somali coast.
It is expected the Le Ponant will motor to Djibouti with a French Navy crew on board but under the command of the yacht’s master.
The attack on the pirates which followed the release of the crew is the first time that swift retribution has been carried out on Somali pirates and is one of the more swift conclusions reached. During the period when the Islamic Courts held power in Somalia they outlawed piracy and on one occasion when pirates seized a foreign ship Islamic authorities forced their way on board the vessel when it was brought into port and took the surviving pirates away while releasing the ship.
The French foreign minister this weekend called for more UN involvement in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast. He said the international community should “mobilise for a determined fight against acts of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.”
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The French helicopter carrier Jeanne d’Arc on which the captured pirates are being held, seen in this picture in Cape Town last month. Picture by Ian Shiffman
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