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More High Drama On High Seas As France Captures Pirate Ship

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Author Topic: More High Drama On High Seas As France Captures Pirate Ship  (Read 33 times)
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« on: April 16, 2009, 06:05:45 am »

                             More high drama on high seas as France captures pirate ship

Shashank Bengali And
Warren P. Strobel,
Mcclatchy Newspapers –
Wed Apr 15, 2009

— On another day of high drama in the waters off Somalia , French forces struck Wednesday at what they described as a pirate "mother ship," and captured 11 suspected pirates hours after pirates attacked an American cargo ship with rockets in the second serious attack on a U.S. vessel in a week.

Pirates operating from the coast of Somalia have threatened revenge and stepped up their activities after U.S. Navy SEAL snipers killed three pirates Sunday and rescued American captain Richard Phillips , who'd been taken hostage. His ship, the Maersk Alabama, narrowly escaped capture a few days earlier.

In the Wednesday attack, pirates used automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades against the U.S.-flagged vessel, the Liberty Sun , which like the Alabama , was ferrying food aid into East Africa . They caused damage but no injuries and failed to seize the vessel. The crew barricaded itself in a safe room, much as the Alabama's crew did, according to a crewmember's e-mail obtained by news agencies.

In Washington , senior aides to President Barack Obama met at the White House Wednesday morning to a plan strategy to deal with the crisis and to address the chaos in anarchic Somalia that's part of the problem.

After the meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced several new steps, including aid to shippers and insurers to bolster their defenses; attempts to block pirates from buying sophisticated vessels and arms; and a diplomatic initiative to press Somali leaders to deal with the problem.

Clinton acknowledged that piracy will not be stopped without tackling Somalia's poverty and its lack of governance. She said, however, that, "You've got to put out the fire before you can rebuild the house. And, right now, we have a fire raging."

The French raid was an unusually aggressive move by international forces patrolling the Indian Ocean , and it was a sign that both pirate attacks and the international response are escalating.

After a Liberian-flagged container ship came under heavy rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire from two pirate speedboats, a French frigate, the Nivose, dispatched two helicopters to the scene, about 500 miles east of the Kenyan port of Mombasa, the French defense ministry said. The helicopters saw the skiffs operating with a 30-foot "mother ship" — often a previously seized vessel used by pirates as a floating base.

Eleven pirates were captured and taken aboard the Nivose.

The assault was the latest hardline French response to piracy, following a commando raid last week to free a French yacht, the Tanit, in which French troops killed two pirates and one French hostage. They captured three other pirates, who've been sent to France , where they're expected to face trial, French officials have said.

The Liberty Sun was due to arrive in Mombasa, its original destination, early Thursday.

The captain of the Alabama , Richard Phillips , who was held hostage for five days, was also due in Mombasa Thursday aboard the destroyer USS Bainbridge. Phillips is to be questioned by U.S. law enforcement agents based in Kenya and then will fly to the U.S. to reunite with his family, said Gordan Van Hook , a representative of the ship's owner, Maersk Line of Norfolk, Va.

The 19 other Alabama crewmen flew out of Mombasa and were expected to reunite with their families at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland , Van Hook said.

Clinton said she'd called for a meeting of an international "contact group" that deals with piracy from Somalia and would press for "an expanded multinational response."

A team of U.S. diplomats, she said, would engage officials of the weak Somalia government and regional leaders in Puntland, the breakaway Somali region where many pirates are based, to urge them to take action.

A State Department official, who requested anonymity to speak more frankly, said most of the steps Clinton announced drew from initiatives already under way and begun in the final days of the Bush administration.

Piracy will not be gotten under control until its root causes are dealt with, he said. "The real problem is that you have this huge swath of coastline which is essentially ungoverned, and which has no economy."

(Strobel reported from Washington .)
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2009, 06:07:13 am »

Way to go, France!,17378.0.html
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2009, 06:12:17 am »

                                   American sailors who thwarted pirates return to US

Ann Sanner,
Associated Press Writer –
April 16, 2009

– A rainy morning outside the nation's capital couldn't dampen the spirits of the crew of the Maersk Alabama, who returned to the U.S. a week after their ordeal off the coast of Somalia.

After they disembarked the charter flight from Kenya early Thursday, one crewman, carrying a child toward the terminal, shouted, "I'm happy to see my family."

Another exclaimed, "God bless America."

The crewmen were greeted at Andrews Air Force Base around 1 a.m. EDT by several dozen family members who crowded onto the wet tarmac near the arriving plane, waving small flags in the unseasonably cool air. A bevy of reporters and cameras captured the scene, which included a banner adorned with yellow ribbons reading "Welcome Home Maersk Alabama" that shipping company employees erected near the runway.

The crowd erupted in cheers and whistles and applause as the crewman, carrying bags and belongings, climbed down a ramp from the plane to hugs and kisses from family members.

Missing was the Alabama's skipper, who arrived in Mombasa, Kenya, on Thursday aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer that had saved him.

The crewmen did not stop to talk with reporters and quickly entered the terminal with their families, where a reception area was set aside for their privacy.

The crew was bused to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center about 10 miles away, where they were to spend the night.

Before the crew left Kenya, third mate Colin Wright said he looked forward to hugging his mother when he touched down and advised everyone to embrace theirs.

"Everybody out there give your mother a hug," he said. "Yeah, don't wait. Life is precious. And what a beautiful world."

One week ago, pirates took over the Alabama briefly before Capt. Richard Phillips surrendered himself in exchange for the safety of his 19-member crew. Phillips was freed Sunday after five days of being held hostage in a lifeboat when U.S. Navy SEAL snipers on the destroyer USS Bainbridge killed three of his captors.

The Alabama crew had scuffled with the pirates, wounding one of them with an ice pick, in taking back control of their ship. The bandits fled the ship with Phillips as their captive, holding him in the lifeboat in a high-stakes standoff until the SEAL sharpshooters took action.

The Bainbridge was diverted Tuesday to chase pirates attacking a second U.S. cargo ship, thereby delaying Phillips' homecoming. The cargo ship, the Liberty Sun, escaped after sustaining damage from automatic weapons fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

Another chartered plane was waiting at the Mombasa airport for Phillips, a Kenyan airport official said.

Phillips' wife, Andrea, and two children were still home in Vermont and did not know when or where they would meet him, said her mother, Catherine Coggio.

"We're just so thankful that things have turned out the way they have," Coggio told The Associated Press by phone from her home in Richmond, Vt.


Associated Press writers

Tom Maliti
in Mombasa, Kenya, and

Calvin Woodward
in Washington

contributed to this report.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2009, 06:14:13 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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