Australian Family Uninjured In Pirate Attack

Friday, November 19, 1999
Pirates sprayed bullets into an Australian family yacht near the coast of Yemen and the holidaymakers were eventually rescued by a Saudi Arabian oil tanker, one of the victims said. Moya Tucker, resting with her husband and two children at a Yemeni army resort in Aden, said her family was shaken but none was hurt in the incident, which occurred on Nov. 12. Yemeni authorities launched an investigation into the incident and vowed to bring those responsible to justice. Tucker, who is from Crookwell, west of Sydney in New South Wales, said the family were sailing near the Aden coast when five pirates in a fishing boat stopped them, claiming they were policemen. "At the beginning they sort of waved at us. When my husband tried to wave them away, they pulled out semi-automatic rifles and pointed them at us," Tucker said by telephone from Aden. She said the pirates began firing at the yacht when her husband tried to speed away. "The men fired many shots into the cockpit, breaking the windows, and we were lying on the floor. I had to crawl along to the children who were terrified," she said. Tucker said she radioed for help while trying to shelter her children - Monique, 9, and Martin, 6. But the pirates caught up with the yacht and three of them came onboard, ordering them out. "We came out of the cockpit. They said they were policemen and ordered us to sit down. One of them shook my little boy. He also kicked me and my boy on the head. Then he asked for money," Tucker said. Tucker said she told the gunman that she only had 50 British pounds, but he went inside searching for valuables - taking a video cassette recorder, a computer screen and some fruit. She said the pirate asked for whiskey, and she gave him some as well as a bottle of wine. But the alcohol sparked an argument with his colleagues, who forced him to leave the bottles behind. Help came about one-and-a-half hours later, when a Saudi oil tanker she had been in contact with located them and towed the yacht into the port of Aden. The military commander of Yemen's southern region, Brigadier-General Mohammed Maqoulah, vowed to capture the pirates and bring them to justice. He said the Yemeni government would pay for repairing the yacht. The Australian consul-general visited the family at the resort, where they were staying as guests of Yemen's government. Tucker said she planned to return home next week, while her husband would remain behind to oversee the repairs of the yacht, which she said was expected to take about three months. - (Sami Aboudi, Reuters)
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