Hostages of Somali pirates freed

14th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

The crew of a luxury French yacht, who were held hostage for a week, were freed on Friday and due in Paris late on Monday, says military officials.

14 April 2008

PARIS - The crew of a luxury French yacht freed after being held hostage for a week by Somali pirates are due to arrive in Paris late on Monday, the French military said Sunday.

The 30-strong crew are on board a French helicopter carrier off the coast of Somalia and are due to be flown by helicopter Monday to a French military base in Djibouti before travelling on to France, the military said.

It was not clear if the non-French members of the crew of the Ponant -- which includes six Filipinos, a Ukrainian and a Cameroonian -- would also travel to Paris.

Six hostage-takers -- arrested in a dramatic raid by French commandos as they attempted to escape in a 4x4 vehicle -- were on board a French navy ship accompanying the helicopter carrier which is heading towards Djibouti.

But military officials said they had no information yet as to when or if they would be sent to Paris. The French foreign ministry has said it would like to see those captured brought to France for trial.

The pirates released the crew members of the three-masted yacht on Friday after a ransom was paid.

But shortly after they were released, French commandos tracked some of the suspected pirates, who had gone ashore, and arrested six of them as they attempted to drive off.

Owned by French charter company CMA-CGM, Le Ponant was en route to the Mediterranean from the Seychelles when pirates boarded the vessel on 4 April.

The 32-cabin vessel used for luxury cruises later anchored off Puntland, a breakaway northern region of Somalia, with a French navy ship in attendance, while negotiations with the pirates took place.

[AFP / Expatica]

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