Horn of Africa Turns into Pirate Central
Piracy in Somalia replaces fishing as the most profitable industry.
September 25, 2008 - 12:05 am
The U.S. Navy says it appears pirates tried to attack a large U.S. military oil tanker earlier this week, according to a Reuters report.
“From all appearances it does look like it was a pirate attack and the incident is currently under investigation,” said a U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesman by telephone from Bahrain.
The attack was the latest chapter in an ongoing battle against modern-day pirates.
Under the cover of darkness, in the late-night hours of September 15, thirty French commandos from the elite frogman unit Hubert Commando were dropped from helicopters into dangerous waters somewhere off the coast of Somalia.
The combat divers swam with their night-vision goggles and waterproofed weapons up to the hijacked luxury yacht, the Carre D’as IV, and snuck on board using grappling hooks and ropes. There, the men entered into a gun battle with pirates who were holding two French nationals hostage. One pirate was killed and six were captured.
The following morning, French President Nicolas Sarkozy held a triumphant press conference at the Élysée Palace in Paris. France’s elite force of armed swimmers took 10 minutes to free Jean-Yves and Bernardette Delanne, Sarkozy said. The couple had been held captive since September 2; pirates wanted $1.4 million for their release.
“The world cannot accept [piracy]” Sarkozy said. France’s show of force was meant to be a “warning” to all pirates in the region, he said, adding “France will not accept that crime pays.” Sarkozy then called on world leaders to mobilize the United Nations Security Council to take action against “this plague” of piracy.