Somalia- unconfirmed reports Pirates attacked

Le Ponant
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The mayor of a small coastal village in northern Somalia dismissed media reports that the 288 feet French luxury yacht Le Ponant hijacked by pirates on Friday Apr. 4 in the Gulf of Aden has anchored near the village of Eyl, 500ikm north of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Abdullahi Said O'Yusuf, the mayor of Eyl, told Somalia's Radio Garowe last night that the hijacked French yacht had passed Eyl and headed south towards coastal waters off the region of Mudug, in central Somalia.

Initial reports were that the French yacht and its 32-member crew had docked near the coastal village of Eyl.

But Mayor O'Yusuf, who reached the Puntland capital city of Garowe today, repeatedly denied the widespread reports, saying that the townspeople of Eyl would 'not allow' the pirates to dock near their small fishing village.

Yusuf, said he would be 'happy... to see the pirates killed' as a small French warship, the Commandant Bouan, maintained permanent surveillance of the vessel.

'The French and American ships must attack the pirates. They have our blessing,' Mr Ghelle said, adding that the hijackers have been encouraged by ransoms paid in previous ship seizures.

'These pirates are terrorists and there is no need to negotiate with them.

'Attacking them will solve future piracy plans.'

In Paris, a defence source said troops from the gendarmerie's elite counter-terrorism and hostage rescue unit were sent to Djibouti where they will remain until further orders.

Unconfirmed reports emerging from the region of Mudug said the hijacked ship had reached a small coastal town on the Central Somali coast where armed villagers engaged the pirates in a skirmish that killed at least two people.

Clan elders in Mudug contacted by Somalia's Radio Garowe said they had heard of the report, but declined to comment until they reach the remote location for confirmation.