Frenchwoman being held by Somali pirates rescued

September 12th, 2011 - 12:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Barcelona, Sep 12 (IANS/EFE) The Spanish armed forces rescued a Frenchwoman who was being held captive in the Indian Ocean by the pirates who murdered her husband last week, Defence Minister Carme Chacon said.

The amphibious assault ship Galicia carried out the operation and captured seven people aboard the pirate vessel, Chacon told EFE.

The Frenchwoman’s husband was killed last Thursday, the same day that the pirates captured the couple’s vessel.

The Galicia took action after it detected a suspicious vessel while on patrol off the coast of Somalia.

The pirate ship tried to blackmail the military vessel by showing “a white hostage”, Chacon said.

The Galicia ordered the suspicious skiff to halt, the Spanish defense ministry said in a statement released in Madrid.

The skiff ignored the order to stop and the Galicia’s commander ordered that shots be fired across the pirate boat’s bow.

The pirates brought out the woman in an effort to get the Spanish vessel to stop its pursuit.

The “Operation Atalanta” command ordered the Spanish vessel, which is part of the anti-piracy operation, to fire at the skiff’s engine. A helicopter and an assault team took out the pirate vessel’s engine.

The pirates opened fire on the Spanish military personnel, who returned fire, sinking the skiff.

Spanish military personnel managed to rescue the woman, who told them that her husband’s body was thrown overboard by the pirates last Thursday.

The seven kidnappers were placed under arrest by Spanish marines.

The woman and her husband were taken captive after pirates boarded the Tribal Kat, their catamaran, in the Indian Ocean.

The successful rescue demonstrates that “Operation Atalanta” has had positive effects since “there are increasingly fewer kidnappings”, Chacon said.

–IANS/EFE
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