The French sailing cruise vessel LE PONANT, hijacked near the approaches to the Gulf of Aden on 4 April 2008, was released by its hijackers on 12 April 2008.
Around ten pirates armed with automatic weapons stormed the luxury vessel whilst she was under way in the Gulf of Aden. The vessel and her 30 crew were taken to the Somali coast where they were held hostage. The vessel was monitored by a French naval vessel whilst at anchorage.
Reports indicate that once the safety of the 30 crew was guaranteed, an elite force attacked and captured six pirates. The hijackers are currently being held by the French authorities. It is understood that there have been five fatalities during the attack.
The turnaround period between the time that the vessel was hijacked, negotiations completed, ransom paid and crew released was markedly quicker than recent examples of hijacked vessels. It is possible that the rapid French military presence was a key factor in this.
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