French Woman Captured by Somali Pirates Released by EUNAVFOR

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

September 14, 2011

On 10 September EUNAVFOR Operation ATALANTA assets intercepted and forcibly stopped a suspected Somali Pirate skiff which was involved in the abduction of a crew member from the French Sailing Yacht (SY) TRIBAL KAT. The successful operation resulted in the safe release of Mrs Colombo, who was unharmed. Seven persons suspected of carrying out the pirating and abduction have been detained.

On 8 September, responding to a distress call, the EU NAVFOR Flagship FGS BAYERN located the SY TRIBAL KAT off the coast of Yemen. During an inspection of the yacht, the crew were found to be missing.
A search of the Gulf of Aden by a United States Navy maritime patrol aircraft and ships and helicopters of the EU NAVFOR located a suspicious skiff on 10 September. Helicopters from the FS SURCOUF and SPS GALICIA were tasked to intercept the skiff and noted suspicious activity onboard. Using warning shots, SPS GALICIA’s helicopter attempted to stop the skiff, which was closing the Somali Coast, but this initially was not heeded. Subsequent gunfire forced the skiff to stop. An armed boarding team from the SPS GALICIA approached the skiff and the suspected criminals opened fire on them. Following an exchange of fire the skiff capsized.

Mrs Colombo was immediately recovered uninjured. The seven suspected criminals were also recovered from the sea by the boarding team and transferred to the SPS GALICIA. It has subsequently been confirmed that the other crew member of the SY TRIBAL KAT, Mr. Colombo, was killed on 8 September when the SY TRIBAL KAT was attacked by suspected pirates. Mrs. Colombo has been transferred to FS SURCOUF by helicopter for onward repatriation to France. The seven suspected criminals, three of whom sustained minor wounds during the hostage rescue operation were treated onboard the SPS GALICIA and have now been transferred to the FS SURCOUF. Investigations continue to determine the details of the incident so that criminal prosecutions can be pursued. The yacht TRIBAL KAT is being sailed to a safe port by a crew from the FS SURCOUF.

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