Updated: Luxury Yacht Still Held By Pirates
France In Contact with Somali Pirates
Somalia Urges France to Take Action Against Pirates
Pirate Seizure May Affect Itineraries
(3 p.m.) More details have been revealed about the release of the hostages. The French government did not use public money to pay a ransom, but a French general implied that the owner of the luxury yacht may have paid off the pirates. Six of the pirates have been captured and are onboard a French naval vessel. The whereabouts of the remaining pirates are uncertain. All of the freed crew members are in good physical condition and are at a French military base in Djibouti prior to their return to Paris within the next few days.
(12:30 p.m.) Pirates who hijacked a French luxury yacht have released the crew members who have been held hostage for a week. A statement from French President Nicolas Sarkozy thanked the French agencies and military who assisted with the negotiations, but did not give details on the events surrounding the release. The hostages were freed "without incident" and the crew members will be flying back to France as soon as possible.
News reports indicated that the ship has also been released, but there's no information regarding the current whereabouts of either ship or crew, how the hostages were freed or whether a ransom was paid. If the pirates truly have given up control of Le Ponant, it's unclear how or when the ship will be leaving Somalia and when we can expect its sailing schedule to resume.
The ship was attacked on April 4 by pirates off the coast of Somalia. No passengers were onboard, and the 30 crew members were apparently treated well during their weeklong captivity. The French government sent both negotiators and elite military personnel to Somalia to negotiate the hostages' release.
We'll keep you posted should more news come to light about the details of the release or the plans for the return of the yacht.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor