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French Special Forces Swoop on Somali pirates

By James Greenwald last modified Apr 16, 2008 01:49 PM

Published: 2008-04-16 13:49:41
Topics: Piracy & Security
Countries: Somalia , Djibouti , France

FRENCH special forces are reported to have detained six Somali pirates and recovered an alleged $1M in ransom money in an airborne raid after the pirates released the cruise ship Le Ponant.

The French swooped after the pirates released the cruise ship Le Ponant. AFP quoted French defence minister Herve Morin as saying that Somali authorities had authorised the operation. Le Figaro newspaper on Saturday said the Somali Transitional Federal Government had praised the action.

Wide press coverage quotes French military leaders describing the helicopter raid on the pirates as they regrouped ashore after leaving the ship. The exercise is said to have been timed so that the newly released hostage crew and officers of Le Ponant were safely aboard another French carrier before the raid.

Four helicopters were involved in the action to prevent the pirates getting away in a vehicle. Six of the pirates were taken into custody, while at least eight others got away, according to the UK’s Independent newspaper.

The commandos are also believed to have repossessed $1M in cash out of $2M in ransom that had been handed over to the pirates by French shipowner CMA CGM.

The future of the detainees is not yet known, although the French foreign ministry is understood to have said it would like them brought to France for trial.