They were French commandos. The Spanish newspaper 20 Minutos has the story about how French citizens were rescued, but at the loss of one hostage. It hasn’t hit the English press yet. I hope our readers are better at Spanish then French, but here’s a loose translation .
One of the five occupants of a French yacht hijacked last weekend off the coast of Somalia has died during an operation to free them, the French Army, reported Friday from the Elysee.
The threats to the hostages by their captors forced the military intervention, said the Elysee, which reported on Thursday that negotiations had been initiated to secure the release of the hostages. Among the occupants of the sailboat was a child of three years.
The boat, “Le Tanit, was hijacked on Saturday about 640 kilometers from the Somali coast, opposite the town of Ras Hafun, in the northwest of the country.
Update: The Guardian has an account of the French operation in English. The Guardian story also adds that pirates are sending reinforcements to the men holding captain Phillips using German human shields as cover.
The hijacking of the Alabama is believed the first pirate attack on an American-flagged merchant ship in 200 years. Tonight, a pirate source told Reuters that associates were heading towards the scene of the standoff on a captive German vessel with foreign hostages still on board to act as human shields.
“Knowing that the Americans will not destroy this German ship and its foreign crew, they [the approaching pirates] hope they can meet their friends on the lifeboat,” the pirate told Reuters.
The pirates know the “One Rule Batman Never Breaks” as well as anyone else. They’ll go up against a Burke-class destroyer in a small boat, armored in the West’s own code of ethics. The challenge for civilization is to meet lawlessness without losing itself.