First instance of small cruising yacht being held hostage as two Europeans are kidnapped

Somali pirates have demanded a ransom for the release of a German couple kidnapped from a yacht sailing in the Gulf of Aden, making this the first instance of a small cruising yacht’s non-professional crew being held hostage. Up to 100 small yachts make the Red Sea transit each year, most with short-handed crew – usually families – with or without children.

‘The foreigners invaded our waters,’ a spokesperson for the group holding the middle-aged couple from Germany said.

The couple was abducted early Monday (23 June) as they sailed through the Gulf of Aden on a trip from Egypt to Thailand. Early reports claimed that four Europeans were kidnapped, including the French skipper and a German child, but the pirates said they are holding only the couple.

The district commissioner of the Las Korey area Yusuf Jama Dabeed said that troops from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland found the yacht abandoned on the shore, but that by that point the kidnappers had taken their captives into the mountains.

It is believed that the kidnapping was an opportunistic action that involved both pirates and local fishermen. The German Foreign Office said that it was attempting to find more information.

Piracy is rife off the coast. Cargo ships and one luxury yacht have been targeted by heavily-armed pirates, who then hold the crew ransom. The most high-profile case in recent months involved the capture of a luxury French yacht in April and its professional crew. French troops rescued the hostages and captured six of the pirates.