Saturday, September 10, 2011

GERMAN NAVY FINDS FRENCH YACHT WITHOUT ITS CREW, PIRACY SUSPECTED

A German frigate, the Bayern, has reportedly found a French catamaran adrift in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen with no crew aboard. The disappearance of the crew is now being reviewed by France's spy agency, the DGSE. The French foreign ministry asked the Bayern to check on the catamaran, but by the time the frigate reached her, the crew was gone.

COMMENT: The Yemeni Coast Guard reported that two yachts with six French citizens aboard had entered Yemeni waters on August 19 and had left on September 4, but no other details were available.

While officials would not speculate on the fate of the missing crew, the waters between Yemen and Somalia are notorious for attacks by pirate gangs, and French yachts have been among the vessels seized in the past.

On Wednesday (September 7), Denmark announced the release of a Danish family more than seven months after they had been kidnapped by Somali pirates. A maritime monitoring group said a large ransom had been paid.

A British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, were seized by pirates in October 2009 as they sailed from the Seychelles to Tanzania and were held for around 13 months.

Somali pirates frequently seize crew from merchant ships and pleasure craft in the dangerous waters off the Horn of Africa and have taken millions of dollars in ransoms for their release.

A French couple was kidnapped from on board a yacht in September 2008 as it headed through the Gulf of Aden. A ransom was paid, but French commandos later ambushed the pirates, killed one, captured six more and recovered the cash.



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