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French minister pledges probe into piracy death

France’s defense minister on Saturday promised an investigation into the death of a hostage killed during a French navy commando operation that freed four other captives held by Somali pirates.

world Updated: Apr 11, 2009 19:37 IST

France’s defense minister on Saturday promised an investigation into the death of a hostage killed during a French navy commando operation that freed four other captives held by Somali pirates.

Defense Minister Herve Morin acknowledged that it could have been a French bullet that killed hostage Florent Lemacon, during an operation that demonstrated the risks of using military force against sea bandits.

Pirates seized a sailboat carrying Lemacon, his wife, 3-year-old son and two friends off the Somali coast a week ago. On Friday, French navy commandos stormed the boat in an assault triggered by threats the passengers would be executed.

Two pirates were killed, and Lemacon died in an exchange of fire as he tried to duck down the hatch.

“There will be of course a judicial inquiry, therefore there will be an autopsy. We cannot of course exclude that during the exchange of fire between the pirates and our commandos, the shot (that killed Lemacon) was French,” Morin said on Europe-1 radio.