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Somalia/France/US - pirates

French hostages return, elders try to free Maersk captain

Article published on the 2009-04-12 Latest update 2009-04-12 15:56 TU

The US-flagged Maersk Alabama container ship at the Kenyan coastal sea port of Mombasa(Photo: Reuters)

The US-flagged Maersk Alabama container ship at the Kenyan coastal sea port of Mombasa
(Photo: Reuters)

The surviving hostages from the French yacht Tanit return to France Sunday afternoon. They include three-year-old Colin Lemaçon and his mother, Chloé, but not his father, Florent, who died during the rescue. Somali elders have resumed efforts to free the American captain captured by pirates this week, while an Italian boat has been hijacked.

Chloé and Colin Lemaçon arrive at Villacoublay airport, near Paris, on Sunday afternoon along with two friends who were accompanying them on their trip round the world, recorded on a website but cut short when they were captured by pirates on 4 April.

Florent Lemaçon, who was killed when French marines captured the yacht, was trying to protect his wife and son with a mattress, according to France's Ministry of Defence.

Defence Minister Hervé Morin on Saturday said that Lemaçon may have been killed by shots fired by French soldiers.

Elders in Somalia say that they are still trying to free Richard Philips, the captain of the US-flagged Maersk Alabama, after negotiations broke down Saturday.

They say that the pirates demanded safe passage if they surrendered but that American officials told them they would be handed over to local authorities in the northern Somali breakaway region of Puntland.

The New York Times reports that the breakdown took place when the pirates fired on a small US navy vessel which tried to approach their craft.

"I am quite sure that he will be released soon," Somalia's deputy Prime Minister Abdurrahman Haji Adam Ibbi told RFI.

But he says that the kidnappers must be brought tocourt, describing them as “not actually human, they are not actually supposed to be given any mercy".

Comment: Somalia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Fishing and Marine Resources, Abdurrahman Haji Adam Ibbi

12/04/2009 by Alexandra Brangeon

Philips's crew hailed him as a "hero" on arriving at the Kenyan port of Mombasa because he volunteered to be taken hostage in return for their freedom.

An Italian vessel, the Buccaneer, is approaching the Somali coastline on Sunday, after being captured by another group of pirates with 16 crew on board on Saturday.