Commandos sent to free yacht crew

This aerial photo provided by the French Defense Ministry on Saturday, April 5, 2008, and taken Friday, April 4, 2008 shows gunmen, top left on deck, aboard French cruise ship Le Ponant off Somalia\'s coast. France\'s military is keeping close tabs on the French luxury yacht seized by pirates off Somalia\'s coast, and officials hope to avoid using force to free the 30 crew members, the prime minister said Saturday, April 5, 2008. Attackers stormed the 288-foot Le Ponant on Friday, April 4, 2008 as it returned without passengers from the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, toward the Mediterranean Sea, officials with French maritime transport company CMA-CGM said.

(This aerial photo provided by the French Defense Ministry on Saturday, April 5, 2008, and taken Friday, April 4, 2008 shows gunmen, top left on deck, aboard French cruise ship Le Ponant off Somalia’s coast.)

Crack French troops are being sent to help free the crew of a luxury yacht seized by pirates off Somalia.

A team of the GIGN commando force that conducts anti-terrorist and hostage rescue operations is being sent to Djibouti to “reinforce” negotiation teams in place, the French foreign ministry said.

Pirates took over the yacht, called Le Ponant, in the Gulf of Aden on Friday. It was carrying 30 crew members, including 22 French citizens, but no passengers.

A French frigate, Le Commandant Bouan, was diverted from Nato duties and has been tracking the yacht.

French officials have made contact with the pirates.

“We had confirmation that the crew was safe and sound and well-treated,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

“Our priority is the safety of the hostages,” she added.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned it could take “an enormous amount of time” to settle the pirate stand-off. President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to meet the families of the French crew members on Tuesday.

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One Response

  1. Wow Modern Day Pirates

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