Earlier this week Somali pirates seized a cruising yacht in the notorious Gulf of Aden with two French nationals aboard, bringing the number of hijacked vessels in that area to at least 30 since the beginning of the year. That statistic makes the waters off the Horn of Africa the most dangerous in the world.
Although a recent UN Security Council resolution gave the French government the right to pursue pirates in Somali waters, officials are currently weighing their options.
Readers will recall that a yacht with 30 crew was seized and eventually released earlier this year. In that case, French commandos captured six pirates after the hostages were freed. In June, a small private yacht was attacked and the two German sailors aboard were held for 41 days before a ransom was paid. No pirates were reported to have been captured in that incident. Experts speculate that while yachts are occasionally seized, the pirates’ most prized targets are large commercial vessels. Somali gunmen are currently demanding a ransom of $8.2 million to free two Malaysian tankers and a Japanese-managed bulk carrier which were hijacked in recent months.