Somali pirates strike again

Pirates have taken two yachtsmen hostage after their boat ran aground off the coast of Somalia. The pirates boarded the yacht which had three crew, the European Union’s anti-piracy force said.

A French warship, the FS Floreal, located the yacht on Saturday, but when a team approached the yacht shots were fired.The yacht ran aground on Sunday near Somalia and the EU Naval Force said the South African captain refused to leave the yacht but that the pirates took the two other crew hostage and went ashore.

The South African is now aboard an EU Naval Force warship. A naval force helicopter searched for the other two crew but could not locate them.

A spokesman, Lt. Col. Per Klingvall, said the EU Naval Force could not immediately release the nationalities of the two other crew because their relatives have not yet been notified about the hijacking.

The incident appears similar to the case of Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple taken hostage by Somali pirates while sailing their private boat off East Africa in October 2009. The Chandlers are still being held in Somalia.

Despite patrols by an international flotilla of warships, Somali pirates continue to attack and hijack ships moving through the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off East Africa. Multimillion dollar ransoms paid to release the ships and crew fuel the attacks.

Meanwhile, the EU Naval Force said that one of its warships was attacked off Somalia by the MV Izumi, a ship that was taken over by pirates in October. The force said the pirate attack was “foiled without injury or damage” with minimal use of force so as not to endanger any hostages on the Izumi.