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Captive Danes will die if rescue attempted: Pirate

A Danish family`s sailboat was seized by pirates in Indian Ocean Thursday.

Updated: Mar 01, 2011, 22:17 PM IST

Nairobi: A pirate in Somalia is warning that they will kill their Danish hostages if any rescue attempt is made.

Abdullahi Mohamed said that he has ties with the gang holding the Danish family including three children. Mohamed has provided reliable information to AP in the past.

Mohamed said Tuesday that any attack against the pirates would result in the deaths of the hostages, and he referred to the killings last week of four American hostages taken captive by pirates on their yacht.

The sailboat of the Danish family was seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean last Thursday. The hostages include a couple, their three teenage children and two adult crew members.

Most hostages captured in the pirate-infested waters off East Africa are professional sailors. Pirates rarely capture families and children, but a 3-year-old boy was aboard a French yacht captured in 2009. His father was killed in the rescue operation by French navy commandos. Two pirates were killed and four French citizens were freed, including the child.

Blog postings chronicling the Danes` round-the-world journey showed they entered the area well aware that an American yacht had been hijacked by pirates just days before but comforted by the presence of counter-piracy forces.

"Of course, we talked quite a lot about it but this is far over thousands of kilometers (miles) away and the Arabian Sea that we sail in is the size of Europe," the family said a Feb. 20 posting on ING jordenrundt.info. ING is the name of their boat.

Two days later, that standoff ended with four Americans being killed by their Somali captors.=

It`s unclear if the Danish family knew about the deaths of the Americans. Their last posting on Feb. 23 — a day before the hijacking — only said their journey was uneventful and "we have NOT been boarded by pirates."

The blog identified the family as Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie Johansen, their sons Rune and Hjalte and their daughter Naja. They are from Kalundborg, 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of Copenhagen.

The chairman of the Kalundborg yacht club, Ole Meridin Petersen, confirmed their names to The Associated Press. He called them "experienced sailors" and said they were planning to enter the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez canal from the Red Sea.

That route would take the family through the Gulf of Aden, one of the most dangerous waterways in the world in terms of piracy.

"They expected to be home in August," Meridin Petersen told the AP.

Somali pirates have extended their range east and south after increased naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden. They hold more than 660 hostages and some 30 vessels. If a ship`s owner is unable to pay the multimillion dollar ransoms the pirates demand, they may keep it and use the boat to stalk other vessels until they run out of supplies or break down.

In the blog, family members wrote they felt reassured as they saw overflights by counter-piracy patrol planes and had daily contact with naval authorities.

"It is reassuring that they look after us," a Feb. 20 blog post said.

A day earlier, the family blogged they had drawn up "a piracy plan for who does what if we are attacked." They were also sending daily position and status updates to the British Royal Navy`s UK Maritime Trade Operations, which acts as a liaison for ships traveling through waters threatened by pirates.

The Johansens had been reporting the position of their yacht daily via e-mail since Feb. 17, said Wing Cmdr. Paddy O`Kennedy, a spokesman for the European Union`s anti-piracy force.

Denmark`s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday advised citizens against traveling in sailboats in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and the northwestern Indian Ocean. Ministry officials said they confirmed the Danish boat was seized by pirates and were doing "everything in our power" to help the Danes.

Bureau Report