French commandos storm hijacked yacht, one hostage dies | World| Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 11.04.2009
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French commandos storm hijacked yacht, one hostage dies

One French hostage died, but the other four have been freed as French forces launched a rescue mission on a yacht being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Two pirates were killed and three more captured.

This undated photo provided Friday, April 10, 2009 by the French navy shows negotiators and members of the French navy on boats near the French sailboat Tanit, off the coast of Somalia.

The French negotiating teams couldn't strike a deal

French officials say they decided to launch the raid when it seemed like negotiations with the pirates holding the Tanit yacht captive had broken down.

"With the threats becoming more and more specific, the pirates refusing the offers made to them and the Tanit heading towards the coast, an operation to free the hostages was decided upon," a French Presidential spokesman said.

"During the operation, a hostage was unfortunately killed," he said. "The four others - including the child - are safe and sound."

The French commandos also killed two of the pirates and captured a further three. Prior to storming the yacht, French authorities had offered a ransom, and had offered to exchange a French military officer as a substitute hostage, to replace the woman and child on board the Tanit.

"All these things were permanently and constantly refused," French defense minister Herve Morin said.

Morin said that the hostage who died was caught in an exchange of fire between the pirates and French forces. He added that an investigation into the death has been launched.

The hijacking of the Tanit yacht off the coast of Somalia was the latest in a mounting number of attacks by pirates prowling busy international shipping lanes from the Gulf of Aden into the Indian Ocean.

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