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CRIME

US Marines rescue German ship from pirates

US Marines rescued on Thursday a German-owned ship seized by pirates a day earlier, as part of multinational operations to stem piracy in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, the US Fifth Fleet said.

US Marines rescue German ship from pirates
The Magellan Star. Photo: DPA

In a pre-dawn raid, Marines “boarded and seized control of the Antigua-Barbuda flagged German-owned vessel M/V Magellan Star from pirates who attacked and boarded the vessel early September 8,” a statement said.

No one was hurt in the operation, in which the Magellan Star’s 10-man crew was freed and nine pirates arrested.

The raid was launched from the USS Dubuque after a Turkish frigate – part of the multinational force – responded to a distress signal from the Magellan Star.

The hijack attempt began after the pirates boarded the 8,000-tonne container ship, Jürgen Salamon, a spokesman for the Quadrant shipping company in the northern German city of Hamburg, told AFP.

“The crew had closed down the engines and locked themselves away in a safe room which the pirates were unable to find,” he said.

After searching the ship for three hours the pirates picked up the phone and called the shipping company asking about the crew’s whereabouts, the spokesman said.

“They were told the crew was on holiday,” he said. “They then asked how to switch the engines back on, but were told they were broken.”

The 11-man crew, comprising two Russians, two Poles, and seven Filipinos, spent the time hidden away in a small, cramped safe room whose entrance was not immediately obvious, the spokesman said.

A multinational force was set up in January 2009 to protect shipping lanes and stamp out piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

Unofficial figures show 2009 was the most prolific year yet for Somali pirates, with more than 200 attacks – including 68 successful hijackings – and ransoms believed to exceed €50 million.

At least 23 foreign vessels with more than 411 crew members are still held by pirates, a piracy monitoring organisation, Ecoterra International, said in its latest report on August 31.

AFP/ka

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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