Spanish warship storms pirate skiff, others may be missing

A Mayday broadcast from a French catamaran last Thursday led to a rescue mission that was too late to save one of the boat’s owners.

Christian Colombo (55), a former member of the French navy, and his wife Evelyne had been sailing the Tribal Kat through the notorious Gulf of Aden – against all advice – en route via the Indian Ocean to Thailand when they were attacked.

A German warship responding to the Mayday found the empty catamaran off the coast of Yemen. Signs of a bloody struggle on board initiated an air and sea search by the EU’s anti-piracy task force in the area.

On Saturday the Spanish naval ship Galicia caught up with a suspect vessel. About to open fire, the Spaniards realised hostage Evelyne Colombo was among those on board the skiff. She was rescued and seven pirates were arrested.

Her husband is thought to have been killed when the Tribal Kat was taken. Others may have been on board the catamaran as well, as the couple were known to take on friends as ad hoc crew members. However, until Mme Colombo is able to give a full account of events, the fate of any others is unknown.

Image: SPS Galicia with pirated dhow, EU NAVFOR

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