Los Angeles Times
January 5, 2009
French Patrol Saves Two Ships, Detains 19 Pirates
A French warship captured 19 Somali pirates when it came to the rescue of two cargo ships threatened in the Gulf of Aden, the office of President Nicolas Sarkozy said.
The Jean de Vienne was patrolling as part of a European Union anti-piracy force when it came to aid a Croatian cargo vessel and a Panamanian ship. The 19 pirates were handed over to Somali authorities.
The incident came three days after another French vessel captured eight Somali pirates who had attacked a Panamanian- registered vessel.
Meanwhile, two foreign journalists -- a Briton and a Spaniard -- who had been working on a piracy story were released in good health nearly six weeks after they were kidnapped. Reporter Colin Freeman, 39, of the Sunday Telegraph and freelance photographer Jose Cendon, 34, were abducted Nov. 26. Telegraph Media Group would not say whether a ransom had been paid.
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
January 3, 2009
Greek Ship's Fire Hoses Thwart Somali Pirates
By Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece — Crewmen fired high-pressure water jets Friday to fight off heavily armed Somali pirates trying to board a Greek oil tanker in the dangerous Gulf of Aden, officials said. It was the fourth pirate attack of the new year.
Armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades, pirates in three speedboats twice tried to board the Greek-flagged Kriti Episkopi but were driven away when the crew turned fire hoses on them and EU aircraft scrambled from a nearby European Union flotilla to help, shipping and Greek government officials said.
The attack came a day after Somali pirates seized an Egyptian cargo ship and its crew in the waterway, one of the world's most important sea routes. Also Thursday, a Malaysian military helicopter saved an Indian tanker from being hijacked and a French warship thwarted an attack on a Panamanian cargo ship and captured several pirates.
The captain of the Kriti Episkopi spotted the pirates' speedboats just before 8 a.m. GMT. While he took evasive action, Greek authorities alerted the EU naval flotilla.
"An aircraft and a helicopter reached the ship very quickly, which scared the pirates off," a Greek Merchant Marine Ministry spokesman said. "A frigate also sped to the scene. Everything now seems to be under control, but we remain vigilant."
The 29 crew members were unhurt and the tanker, carrying oil from the Persian Gulf to Greece, was not damaged in the attack off the Somali coast, according to the ship's operating company, Avin International.
More than a dozen warships are now patrolling between the shores of Yemen and Somalia to try to protect commercial vessels in the key waterway, which links the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. Countries as diverse as Britain, India, Iran, the United States, China, France and Germany have naval forces in the waters.
A French warship on Thursday intercepted two speedboats with eight Somali pirates as they were preparing to board the Panamanian ship, according to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office. The crew of the PM L'Her dispatch boat seized weapons and munitions and planned to hand the pirates over to Somali authorities.
Pirates attacked 111 ships around the Gulf of Aden in 2008, hijacking 42 of them and earning tens of millions in ransom. With the capture of the Egyptian tanker, 15 ships with more than 260 crew are still in the hands of pirates, the International Maritime Bureau says.