French free sailboat from pirates, 1 hostage dies
The French Navy stormed a French sailboat being held by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, killing one hostage and two pirates in the operation, a presidential statement said on Friday.world Updated: Apr 11, 2009 00:04 IST
The French Navy stormed a French sailboat being held by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, killing one hostage and two pirates in the operation, a presidential statement said on Friday.
The navy also freed four remaining hostages, including one child, who were seized on Saturday when pirates boarded their ship, the Tanit. Three other pirates were taken prisoner.
It was not immediately clear where the rescue operation occurred. It did not appear to be in any proximity to the current standoff involving an American captain being held hostage. It was the third time the French have freed hostages from the hands of pirates but the first time that a hostage had been killed. The French presidential statement said the boat was being steered toward the Somali coast.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said the death of one of five hostages came at the end of a two-day ordeal in the pirate-infested waters where the seizure of vessels by Somali pirates has become a common occurrence.
"During the operation, a hostage was unfortunately killed," the statement said adding that the four other hostages, including the child, were "safe and sound."
France's policy is to refuse to accept acts of piracy and avoid having French citizens taken ashore as hostages, the statement said. The operation began on Thursday when a Navy vessel contacted the pirates and "immobilized" the Tanit, it said.
"Negotiations were started to persuade the pirates to give up their criminal undertaking," said the statement. "On Friday, threats were more precise, with the pirates refusing proposals and the Tanit moving toward the coast. An operation to free the hostages was decided."
Details of the operation were not disclosed.
The passengers in the Tanit, a tourist boat, had repeatedly been warned to avoid the dangerous waters around Somalia and the Gulf of Aden.