Oops, Pirates Rush French Military Ship
(May 4) - The French Navy said they seized 11 pirates Sunday after they apparently mistook a French military vessel for a commercial ship and made a run at it off the coast of Kenya.
Two pirate assault boats approached the Nivose "at great speed," Capt. Christophe Prazuck said, but a French helicopter intervened before the attackers had time to fire at the French navy ship
The helicopter fired warning shots, he said.
The pirates, who had a mother ship as well as the two assault boats, are being held for questioning on the Nivose, Prazuck said. The vessels were carrying AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, but the pirates did not fire, he said.
The incident took place about 1,000 km (620 miles) east of Mombasa, Kenya, at 8:30 a.m. local time (0430 GMT) he added.
In the past three weeks, the Nivose has intercepted 24 suspected pirates as part of a European Union anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia, which has become a piracy hotspot.
Over the past year, more than 100 suspected pirates have been picked up, Prazuck said. Of that total, 27 have been released, and more than 70 taken to jail in France, handed to authorities in Somalia or taken to Kenya under an EU agreement with the government in Nairobi.
The Nivose seized three other suspected pirates Thursday morning, the French military spokesman said, but released them the next day for lack of evidence.