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Published: 2 May 09 12:27 CET Online: http://www.thelocal .de/national/

The German government pulled back the elite combat force GSG 9 from
storming the
pirate-held ship Hansa Stavanger at the last minute, it was reported at
the weekend.

Politicians pulled back the force amid fears that an attempt to free the
ship would
end in a blood bath.

The container ship, captured by pirates off the Somali coast at the
beginning of
April, complete with 24 crew, including five Germans, was in the sights of
a 200-man
strike force, according to reports in the weekly magazines Spiegel and Focus.

They had been aboard the US helicopter carrier ship USS Boxer near the Hansa
Stavanger and were ready to try to board and seize the 170-metre long
ship, when
they received orders to turn back.

The German government had asked the Americans for military support of
efforts to
regain control over the ship, and although the GSG 9 force is being hosted
on the US
ship, it needed explicit US government permission to launch an operation.

This was not issued, and a crisis meeting in Berlin called off the action,
magazines report.

An attempt to free the Hansa Stavanger three weeks ago ended in failure
after the
pirates managed to flee to a harbour on the Somali coast.

The GSG 9 force will now return to Germany, the reports say.

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