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September 4, 2008

Somali pirates seize a French-owned yacht

The French Foreign Ministry confirms that a yacht with two French citizens on board has been seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

The attack took place at 1800 h local time yesterday and the vessel is reportedly now under way to the now notorious location off Eyl, Somalia, where the pirates are already holding up to eight other vessels.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner returned to Paris to confer with regional ambassadors and French government agencies and set up a special crisis center within his ministry to work on obtaining the release of the hostages with the shortest possible delay.

He noted that discretion was vital to the effectiveness of any solution.

According to French media reports, the vessel is a 16 m yacht, the Carré d'As ("Four Aces"), flying the flag of Venezuela and belonging to a French resident of that country. It was carrying several other people besides the two French citizens.

The attack comes some five months after the French military's success in releasing the passengers and crew of the cruise yacht Le Ponant and capturing a number of pirates.

Whether a similar mission could succeed again is problematical. Since the Le Ponant incident, the pirates have reportedly been reluctant to deal with any government agencies.


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