COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Any attempt to rescue a Danish family captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean will result in their deaths — just like the four American sailors slain by their captors last week, a Somali pirate warned Tuesday.
Maritime experts said the Danes — a couple with three children ages 12 to 16 — placed themselves in grave danger by sailing into pirate-infested waters off Somalia's lawless coast despite warnings from naval forces struggling to police the area.
The family and two Danish adult crew members were captured Thursday by pirates after sending a distress signal from their sailboat, the Danish government said, adding it was doing "everything in our power" to help them.
Abdullahi Mohamed, a pirate who told the Associated Press he has ties to the gang holding the Danish family, said they will be killed if any rescue operation was attempted. He specifically referred to the killings last week of four American hostages captured by pirates on their yacht.
A British sailing couple was released in November after more than a year in captivity. Reports varied how much was paid for their release, but it was believed to be around $1 million. Pirates are now commanding roughly $5 million per hijacked ship.
According to a travel blog in which they chronicled their round-the-world journey that began in 2009, members of the Danish family were identified as Jan Quist Johansen, his wife, Birgit Marie Johansen, their sons Rune and Hjalte and their daughter Naja. They are from Kalundborg, 75 miles west of Copenhagen.