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Warships free hostage taken from yacht off Yemen

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • One hostage freed when warships stop suspected pirate skiff
  • One other yacht crew member reportedly killed when yacht was boarded by pirates
  • When found, the yacht showed no sign of any crew members

(CNN) -- Warships stopped a suspected pirate skiff Saturday and rescued a crew member of a French yacht that sent a distress call this week off the coast of Yemen, officials said.

A helicopter located the yacht after the Thursday night distress call, but an inspection found no one on board.

Two vessels, one French and the other Spanish, trailed the skiff and ordered it to stop, according to European Naval Force Somalia. All of the suspects were detained.

Another yacht crew member was believed to have been killed when the suspects boarded the vessel, the naval force said in a statement.

The skiff sank during Saturday's operation, but neither the hostage nor the suspected pirates were harmed, officials said.

The French foreign ministry said Friday that the number of people on board the yacht was not known.

The yacht was found eight miles (13 kilometers) off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden, officials said.

Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, lies opposite Somalia on the Gulf of Aden, and the area's waters have been the site of numerous pirate attacks on merchant vessels.

CNN's Saskya Vandoorne and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.