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France Questions 3 Somali Pirates


Three Somali pirates seized in a rescue operation in the Indian Ocean are being questioned in France Wednesday, after the French government said they would face trial there. Somali pirates have warned they would target French as well as American ships in future piracy operations.

The pirates are being questioned by police in the northwestern French city of Rennes. French commandos seized them in an operation last Friday to rescue five French hostages on a boat in the Indian Ocean. Two pirates died during the rescue operation along with the boat's French skipper.

France will prosecute pirates

French Defense Minister Herve Morin has said the surviving pirates will face trial in France.

Meanwhile, the body of the dead French skipper, Florent Lemacon, was due back in France on Wednesday. It remains unclear whether pirates shot him during the rescue operation or whether the French commandos killed him inadvertently. Prosecutors say results from a post-mortem examination will be out on Friday.

Defense minister defends rescue operation

But Minister Morin defended the commando operation during a recent interview on France 2 television.

Morin said the operation took place under very difficult conditions. He also said the French government earlier had offered a ransom and even to trade a French officer for a three-year-old child that pirates were holding on the boat.

Warning to travelers

The French government has warned its nationals to stay away from the pirate-infested Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. There have been dozens of pirate attacks off Somalia's coast this year alone and the French defense ministry estimates pirates are now holding about 250 hostages.

Pirates have warned they will target Americans and French in particular, following both the French rescue operation and an American one, to release U.S. Captain Richard Phillips.

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