Wednesday, January 28, 2009

France captures pirates as Kenya agrees to prosecute suspects

French frigate Le Floréal in the Gulf of Aden
January 8, 2009 (photo: AFP/Stephane de Sakutin)

Yesterday, personnel from a French naval frigate came to aid of a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden that was being attacked by pirates. According to Le Monde, the warship Le Floréal dispatched a helicopter that helped deter the attack on the freighter African Ruby, after which the frigate was able to stop the two skiffs being used by the suspected pirates and apprehend nine men. The warship is in the region as part of the EU NAVFOR Somalia (operation Atalanta). Although Le Monde's report and a press release from the Ministry of Defense are only available in French, you can find more info by checking out other sites, such as EagleSpeak.

French soldiers training aboard frigate Le Floréal,
January 16, 2009 (photo: AFP/Stephane de Sakutin)

With the capture of these nine, France has now managed to apprehend 57 suspects in seven anti-piracy operations mounted since last April. Some have been flown to France, where they are currently awaiting trial, while others have been released to Somali authorities in Puntland. By coincidence, yesterday also saw the news that Kenya and the United States have signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow any suspected pirates captured by American forces to be prosecuted by Kenyan authorities.

At a news conference at the American Embassy in Nairobi, prime minister Raila Odinga said that Kenya's economy is suffering from piracy in the area, as it drives up insurance premiums on vessels trading into the country. This is making his government become more engaged with foreign naval forces patrolling the seas off East Africa. "Piracy is a serious threat to security in our part of the world," said Odinga, "And, therefore, we say that we are going to cooperate with the international community to deal with this issue of piracy."

Kenya has already reached a similar agreement with Great Britain.

Photos below are of suspected pirates with members of Le Floréal's boarding party. More can be seen at Fred Fry blog, or at the source: EMA/Ministry of Defense, Paris.

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