Firing the first shot

The piracy saga in the Indian Ocean has taken a nasty turn, as France’s new Napoleon, Nicolas Sarkozy, has decided capital punishment is the best way of dealing with Somali bandits in the region. French commandos shot dead two pirates as they attempted to rescue a young French yachtsman and his family. It looks likely that they also killed the yachtsman. Then, on Sunday, the US killed a further three pirates as they successfully rescued a captured ship’s captain.

Until now, the pirates have treated their hostages fairly well – possibly because ransoms have usually been paid – but if they decide to fight fire with fire their activities could become more violent. Indeed, hardline Islamists in Somalia have already vowed revenge for the killings, and another pirate who’s holding some Greek captives (over 230 hostages are being held by various pirates) warned:

Every country will be treated the way it treats us. In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying. We will retaliate [for] the killings of our men.