April 11, 2008
Six Le Ponant pirates captured
Six of the pirates involved in the Le Ponant incident have been captured by French forces. They are currently being detained on board a French naval vessel
They were captured in a daring helicopter raid by French special forces after they had returned to shore.
According to French media reports, about a dozen pirates were involved in the seizure of Le Ponant and in keeping its crew hostage.
The crew were released today after the pirates had been paid a ransom (said by some media sources to be $2 million and provided by CMA-CGM, the parent company of Le Ponant's operator).
Later the pirates returned to shore. Some of them dispersed but the others got into a 4x4. It was tracked by a French military aircraft.
Four helicopters pursued the 4x4. A sniper in one of them halted it by firing into the engine. Two helicopters landed and took the six pirates into custody. One of them was wounded in the foot and the French authorities are denying Somali reports of three deaths.
A French military spokesman said that, as well as the pirates, the raid netted "some interesting bags," belived to be part--but not all--of the ransom.
Meantime, the crew of Le Ponant was checked out on board the Jean Bart, subsequent to which some of them returned to the Le Ponant to take it back to sea with the assistance of French naval personnel.