Pirates holding Danish family rebuff rescue attempt


A Somali, part armed militia, part pirate, carries his high-caliber weapon on a beach in the central Somali town of Hobyo on Aug. 20, 2010.


Roberto Schmidt

An attempt to rescue a Danish family, including three children, being held by Somali pirates has failed.

Pirates captured a sailboat carrying Jan Quist Johansen, his wife and children aged 12 to 16 on Feb. 24 as the family was crossing the Indian Ocean and reportedly heading for Somalia as part of a world tour.

Puntland government troops tried to rescue the family Thursday but came under attack by the pirates as the troops advanced on their mountain hide-out, AFP reports.

A security officer told AFP that the pirates killed eight troops.

The family, who is being held several miles from where the attack took place, was not injured, BBC reports.

The pirates earlier warned against any possible rescue attempt. Somalian Abdullahi Mohamed said in February that he had ties with the gang holding the group and that any attack against the pirates would result in the deaths of the hostages.

Four American hostages taken captive by pirates on their yacht, the SV Quest, off the coast of Oman were killed earlier in February.

After the attack on the Quest, GlobalPost senior correspondent Tristan McConnell reported that U.S. military negotiations to secure the release of the two American couples were under way when gunfire broke out aboard the 58-foot yacht.

American soldiers deployed from a nearby warship responded to the shooting and fought their way aboard the Quest killing two pirates and capturing 13 others, McConnell reported. The remains of two other pirates who had died earlier were also found on board the boat.

The Americans were too badly injured to survive when U.S. forces finally reached them.

Piracy has become common off the Horn of Africa, and ransoms have become a main source of revenue for young men who come from Somalia, a country that has not had a functioning government in decades. The pirates usually attack shipping vessels and not family yachts.

-- Hanna Ingber Win