Updated: Luxury Yacht Still Held By Pirates
France In Contact with Somali Pirates
(April 7, 4:30 p.m.) -- Although there have been no new developments in the hostage situation onboard Le Ponant, the hijacked French luxury yacht, the Somali government has voiced its opinion on how the French should proceed. Musa Ghelle Yusuf, governor of the northern region of Puntland, told the AFP in a phone interview that the French should use force if ongoing negotiations fail.
The Somali official said he would be "happy ... to see the pirates killed." He claimed that ransom payments would just encourage the pirates to continue their illicit activities because of the lucrative outcome. France has sent troops from its elite counter-terrorism unit to Djibouti to assist in the negotiations and any possible rescue missions.
Residents of the Puntland region -- which has proclaimed autonomy and distanced itself from the rest of the volatile country -- have been instructed to keep the pirates from coming onshore. When the hijackers tried to land the ship at Garaad, a fishing village in central Somalia, local gunmen told them to go away. The pirates opened fire and killed two of the locals, but according to reports, the men did not fire back. The pirates moored the ship near the town of Eyl instead.
Somalia, which has not had an effective government since 1991, does not have the ability to stop piracy off its coasts. Instead, officials seem content to urge the French -- and the Americans -- to do the dirty work for them.
"These pirates are terrorists and there is no need to negotiate with them," Ghelle said. "Attacking them will solve future piracy plans."
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor