French hostage's widow and son to be flown home

12th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The widow and three-year-old son of a French skipper killed in a special forces shootout with their pirate captors off the Somali coast were to be flown home to Paris on Sunday.

PARIS - French Defence Minister Herve Morin was to welcome Chloe Lemacon and her son at a military airport near Paris at around 1500 GMT, where they were to arrive along with two other crew members freed in the operation on Friday.

The yacht's owner Florent Lemacon, 28, was killed along with two of the pirates when commandos stormed on board the Tanit six days after it was seized in the Gulf of Aden. Three other pirates were taken prisoner.

Morin has said he could not rule out that Lemacon could have been killed by French fire, saying a post-mortem examination and inquiry would seek to determine what happened.

According to a French armed forces spokesman, Lemacon was shot as French commandos traded gunfire with two of the pirates who were sheltering inside the yacht cabin.

The defence ministry said he had earlier tried to shield his wife and child with a mattress.

Morin has defended the operation saying Paris did all it could to save the child's life, including offering to pay an unspecified ransom or to trade the mother and son for a French officer.

He said French forces launched their assault to stop the pirates from taking the hostages to their base on the Somali coast.

The Tanit, which set sail from Brittany in July 2008, was seized in the Gulf of Aden on April 4 as it headed for Zanzibar, in one of the latest of a rash of pirate attacks off the east African coast.


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