Data loading...

French Navy Hands Over Somali Pirates To Puntland

France’s navy Monday handed over five Somali pirates, accused of attacking La Somme flagship in the Indian Ocean six days ago, to officials in Somalia’s Puntland region, a French naval spokesman said.

“The five pirates were released this afternoon from La Somme to Puntland authorities, close to the port of Bossaso,” Admiral Christophe Prazuck told AFP.
Somali pirates tried to attack the French navy's 18,000 ton, 160-meter (525-foot) command vessel on October 7 from two small skiffs after mistaking it for a cargo ship.

La Somme was operating at the time 250 nautical miles (460 kilometers) off the coast of Puntland, a breakaway region in northern Somalia.

It was on its way to resupply fuel to frigates patrolling shipping lanes as part of the European Union's Operation Atalanta anti-piracy mission.

French marines intercepted one of the skiffs after an hour-long chase but found no weapons, water or food as the pirates had apparently thrown all of the boat's contents overboard.

La Somme is the French command vessel in the Indian Ocean, overseeing French air, sea and land forces fighting Somali pirates and hunting terrorists under the banner of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom.

Prazuck said French naval forces there have handed over a total of 51 people suspected of piracy in the past year to Puntland authorities.

Also on Monday the Seychelles announced it has released a suspected Somali pirate ship and its 11 crew captured at the weekend in the wake of an attempted hijacking of two French tuna purse seiners.