French navy tracks luxury yacht seized off Somalia

Pirates stormed the Ponant on Friday and took hostage its 30 crew members, many of them French nationals.

French navy tracks luxury yacht seized off Somalia

The French navy is closely tracking a luxury yacht seized by pirates off the Somali coast but has not tried to intercept the boat, a French military spokesman said on Saturday.

Pirates stormed the Ponant on Friday and took hostage its 30 crew members, many of them French nationals, prompting Paris to send naval forces to the area.

"The Ponant is hugging the eastern coast of Somalia. It is being constantly followed and watched by a French navy vessel," said armed forces spokesman Christophe Prazuck.

"It is observing what is going on board the Ponant and is showing that we are present and constantly following what is happening to our nationals," he told France Info radio.

He said there had been no attempt to intercept the luxury yacht, which was sailing to the Mediterranean Sea from the Seychelles when it was seized in the Gulf of Aden.

"Once the pirates and gangsters are on board a boat, you find yourself in a situation which is very close to that of a hostage situation, which needs a very specialised approach and very well-trained people," he said.

Prazuck said he believed the pirates wanted a ransom but did not know if they had made any specific demands.

YACHT IS OWNED BY DES ILES DU PONANT

The sleek three-masted yacht is owned by the Compagnie des Iles du Ponant. It can carry 64 passengers in its 32 cabins, but there were no holidaymakers aboard at the time of the attack.

Kidnapping and piracy are lucrative businesses in lawless Somalia, and most Somalis treat their captives well in anticipation of a good ransom.

The International Maritime Bureau reported some 31 cases of piracy off Somalia in 2007.

France has 2,900 troops stationed in Djibouti, which borders Somalia and also lies on the coast.

Reuters
Last Mod: 05 Nisan 2008, 15:10
Add Comment