Somali pirates seize Britons

November 14, 2009 12:00 am

, LONDON, Nov 14 – The crew of a British military ship watched as a British couple were taken hostage by Somali pirates but were ordered not to open fire, the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

The ministry insisted that the ship, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary replenishment tanker Wave Knight, could not have acted without endangering the lives of Paul Chandler, 59, and his wife, Rachel, 55.

The couple were sailing near the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean on their yacht the Lynn Rival when pirates boarded as they slept on October 23.

The British ship was carrying 75 merchant seamen and 25 Royal Navy sailors as well as a helicopter at the time of the incident.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "Every effort was made by the Royal Navy and the international maritime fleet to locate the Lynn Rival.

"We did everything we could possibly do without further endangering the lives of Paul and Rachel Chandler.

"We do not comment on operational detail but RFA Wave Knight did very well under the circumstances."

In a phone call on October 29, the couple said they were initially moved from their yacht to a Singapore-flagged container ship, which was under the pirates’ control.

One of the pirates, Abdi Yare, told AFP on October 31 that the couple had then been moved to a location near the pirate lair of Harardhere on the central coast of Somalia.

The pirates have demanded a ransom of seven million dollars (4.7 million euros) but the British government has insisted it will not make any payment.


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