Pirates Step Up Threats Against British Couple, Threaten to 'Punish' Them

Somali pirates stepped up their threats yesterday against a British couple kidnapped on their yacht 16 days ago, saying they would be “punished” unless the commanders of a German warship allowed seven fellow pirates go free.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, are being held in a village outside Harardhere, 180 miles north of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, pirate sources said.

“We will punish them with the same punishment that our guys are receiving,” said Omer, one of the pirates holding the couple. “If we hear that our guys are tortured, we will also torture them.”

Paul, 59, and Rachel, 55, were seized on October 23 as they sailed their 38ft yacht Lynn Rival from the Seychelles to Tanzania.

SLIDESHOW: British Couple Kidnapped by Pirates

The pirates who are holding them were referring to seven comrades being held aboard a German warship sailing under the European Union Naval Force (EuFor) flag, after attacking the Cape Saint Vincent, a French fishing vessel.

Although Omer claimed that the seven Somali men arrested aboard two skiffs were fishermen, a EuFor spokesman said they had been captured as they fired AK-47 assault rifles at the French ship.

European security sources said yesterday that the seven pirates could be tried in France, Germany or Kenya, and that a hostage swap for the Chandlers would not be contemplated.