Paris: Somali pirates attempted to storm the
French navy`s 18,000 tonne Indian Ocean fleet flagship after
mistaking it for a cargo vessel, the military said today.
The crew of La Somme, a 160-metre (525-foot) command
vessel and fuel tanker, easily saw off the brazen night-time
assault by lightly armed fighters on two open-topped
motorboats and captured five pirates, a spokesman said.
"The pirates, who because of the darkness took the French
ship for a commercial vessel, were on board two vessels and
opened fire with Kalashnikovs," Admiral Christophe Prazuck
La Somme is the French command vessel in the Indian
Ocean, overseeing French air, sea and land forces fighting
Somali pirates and hunting terrorists under the banner of the
US-led Operation Enduring Freedom.
Officers on the ship have directed commando operations to
free French hostages in the hands of Somali pirates.
The pirates tried to flee when they realised their
mistake but were pursued by French forces who, after an
hour-long chase, caught one of the skiffs, Prazuck said.
On it they found five men but no weapons, water or food
as the pirates had apparently thrown all of the boat`s
contents overboard, the spokesman said.
The world`s naval powers have deployed dozens of warships
to the lawless waters off Somalia over the past year to curb
attacks by pirates in one of the world`s busiest maritime