Attempt to free Danish family from pirates fails

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An attempt by Somali security forces to free a Danish family being held by pirates failed yesterday after the rescuers were ambushed.

One of the pirates, Bile Hussein, told the Associated Press that armed forces from the northern region of Puntland, which is where most Somali pirates are based, tried to surround the village of Hul Anod and free the Danish family. He said some of the government forces were killed and others were captured in the botched rescue attempt.
“We defended ourselves and foiled their attempt to recover the Danish family,” he told AP. “We have killed and captured some of their soldiers and burnt two (government) pickup trucks. They have run away back to where they came from …The hostages are safe and still in our hands.”

An official in the semi-autonomous Puntland region said that five soldiers were killed and vehicles burnt and that government forces have retreated for the moment.

Danish Foreign Ministry spokesman Folmer Jensen declined to comment on the attempted rescue, saying, “We don’t have any comment because we don’t have any information about the situation.”

Two weeks ago pirates seized the 43 foot yacht being sailed by the Johansens, their three children aged between 13 and 17 and two crew. The family was on a world tour and set off from Denmark in August 2009.

A Somali pirate previously warned that if any attempt was made to rescue the family, they would be murdered like the four Americans killed several weeks ago aboard their yacht the Quest.

Meanwhile, friends and family members in the Danes’ home town of Kalundborg, west of Copenhagen, are raising funds for a possible ransom.
“We know the government will not pay a ransom and want to contribute a portion,” a neighbour told the Politiken newspaper.

Experts said that although paying a ransom could fuel more kidnappings, it was the only viable option to secure their release.



Experts have also questioned the family’s route, saying that the Johansens had placed themselves in danger by ignoring warnings from naval forces policing the area.