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French intercept pirate mother ship

Broadcast: 16/04/2009

Reporter: Mark Simkin

The pirates who have been terrorising the shipping lanes off Somalia are coming up against
increasing opposition. A French frigate intercepted a pirate mother ship which was stalking a
Liberian vessel, and US is bringing more pressure to bear on the situation.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The pirates who've been terrorising the shipping lanes off Somalia are
coming up against increasing opposition.

Overnight a French frigate intercepted a pirate mother ship which was stalking a Liberian vessel.
Eleven gunmen were arrested.

A few days ago it was the United States going on the offensive to free an American hostage. Now the
US is bringing more pressure to bear.

North American Mark Simkin.

MARK SIMKIN: Their ordeal is over. The sailors of the Maersk Alabama finally return to American
soil. Happy to be home, relieved to be alive.

SAILOR: We were cheering in there as soon as we landed.

COLIN WRIGHT, CREW MEMBER: They meant business. Very scary, I was told that the colour went from my
face, which I'm sure it did.

MARK SIMKIN: A 17th century problem is becoming a 21st century crisis. Overnight pirates attacked
another American ship, the Liberty Sun. One of its crew sent a desperate email to his mother.

MOTHER: It says, "... we are under attack by pirates, we are being hit by rockets, also bullets."

MARK SIMKIN: The crew members barricaded themselves inside the engine room and the pirates gave up.
It seems the attackers wanted revenge, rather than profit.

ISMAIL, SOMALI PIRATE (translation): We will seek out the Americans and if we capture them, we will
slaughter them. Last night an American flagship escaped us by a whisker.

MARK SIMKIN: The US Government responded with a vow of its own.

HILLARY CLINTON, US SECRETARY OF STATE: These pirates are criminals. They are armed gangs on the
sea, and those plotting attacks must be stopped, and those who have carried them out must be
brought to justice.

MARK SIMKIN: The US wants to freeze the pirates' assets, improve shipping industry's defences and
increase international cooperation.

France is taking a more confrontational approach. It says it captured 11 bandits and a so-called
mother ship which the pirates used to mount their raids.

The pirates are getting enormous attention now that they're confronting a super power. But this is
an international problem. At least 280 sailors are currently held by pirates, and 76 of the
hostages were taken in the last few days.

Mark Simkin, Lateline.