Pirates yesterday boarded a French luxury cruise yacht and took its 30 crew members hostage in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, the French government and the ship's owner confirmed last night.
The attackers stormed the 32-cabin, four-deck yacht – the Ponant – as it returned without passengers from the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean according to officials with French maritime transport company CMA-CGM.
Francois Fillon, the French Prime Minister, condemned the attack last night. "This is a blatant act of piracy," he told reporters in Brussels. "The defense and foreign ministries are mobilised to act ...I hope in the coming hours to win the freedom of these hostages."
The Ponant "was the victim of an act of piracy early this afternoon as it was sailing between Somalia and Yemen," the armed forces spokesman Christophe Prazuck said.
A French frigate, Le Commandant Bouan, was temporarily diverted from to track the yacht along with a Canadian helicopter on the HCMS Charlottetown, the commander said.
M. Prazuck added that French military forces in the area, along with a Djibouti-based, US-led multinational force – Combined Task Force 150 - "were able to confirm the situation and are following its evolution".