French soldiers providing protection on board French fishing ships in the Indian Ocean early on Saturday fired on pirates to repel an attack, sources said.France has been very aggressive in dealing with Somali piracy.
"Three small launches... (which were) nearly invisible and that we had on the radar at the last moment, chased us," a member of the crew of the Drennac, one of two fishing French vessels approached by the pirates, told AFP by telephone.
The soldiers "at first fired warning shots, then they fired at the target," he added.
The incident took place 195 nautical miles (350 kilometres) north of the Seychelles. There were no casualties on the French side.
The report was confirmed by a western source in the same area. He said that the pirate skiffs that came under fire returned to a mother ship some 30 metres (90 feet) long.
It is the first time that the French soldiers, who have been providing protection since July 1 on board about 10 French fishing ships off the Somalian coast, have opened fire on pirates.
"It proves that this measure (having soldiers on board) works," the western source said.
Spanish fishing vessels operating in the same region have called for the same protection measures but Madrid has so far refused.
Saturday, October 10, 2009