The three-masted 288-foot yacht Le Ponant was seized Friday when it sailed through the Gulf of Aden near the shores of Somalia after dropping off passengers from the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, according to CNN.
A French army unit has been placed on standby if negotiations fail. Monday, one of the pirates opened fire at local gunmen, who tried to prevent them from coming ashore at the Horn of Africa, according to a report on Reuters.com. On Sunday, the pirates tried to land at Garaad, a fishing village in central Somalia. When they were prevented, they shot and killed two men, according to the report.
According to French officials, the pirates are not terrorists and are treating the captives well. Somalia’s pirates are known for taking ships hostage solely for financial gain, seizing more than two dozen ships off Somalia’s coast in 2007, according to CNN. A French warship is shadowing the ship during negotiations and planes are flying overhead, filming its progress.
Though Somalia has given the French its blessing to kill the pirates, the government is leery of aggressive action because of what might happen to the hostages. But as of Monday, the French were not ready to pay a ransom, according to Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Le Ponant’s next trip was to be a 10-day, seven-night trip from Alexandria, Egypt, to Valletta, Malta, starting April 19. Tickets start at $3,465 for a maximum of 60 guests. www.escorteditalytours.com/cruises/leponant.htm
— Elizabeth Ellis