FRENCH FORCES CATCH LE PONANT PIRATES

Monday, 14 April 2008

FRENCH armed forces captured six suspected Somali pirates on Friday and reportedly retrieved half of the ransom paid for the release of a luxury sailing cruise ship. The pirates hijacked the French-flag Le Ponant and held it and its 30-strong crew for a week while negotiations took place.

At the same time French special forces were deployed to the area and moved in once the ransom had been handed over and the crew were safe. The French action was sanctioned by the Somali national and Puntland provincial governments.

The vessel had been moored at Garacade, near Eyl in the northern region of Puntland but was reported being sailed to Djibouti following its release.

Earlier two local government militiamen been killed in a gun battle when local militia tried to stop the pirates entering another harbour in Puntland province.

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