February 22, 2011 by staff
Somali Pirates, (AP) – Four Americans held hostage by Somali pirates off East Africa were killed by their captors, the U.S. military Monday, marking the first time U.S. citizens were killed in a wave of pirate attacks plaguing the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean for years.
U.S. naval forces, who were led by the Americans captured yacht with four warships, quickly boarded the ship after hearing the gunshots and tried to provide care to rescue the Americans, but they died their injuries, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
Two pirates were killed during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement from Tampa, Florida, the remains of two other pirates who had been dead for some time were also found. The U.S. military did not specify how these two could have died.
Negotiations were underway to secure the release of two couples on the ship when the pirates Quest gunfire was heard, the U.S. military.
The quest has been the home of John and Adam Scott, a California couple, who had been sailing around the world since December 2004 with a yacht full of Bibles. The two other Americans on board were Bob and Phyllis Macay Riggle, Seattle, Washington.
“We express our deepest condolences for the loss of innocent life mercilessly aboard the Quest,” said Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command.
In total, the U.S. said that 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking of the Quest.
Just minutes before the army said the four Americans were killed, a Somali pirate told The Associated Press by telephone that if the ship was attacked, “the hostages will be the first to go.”
“Some hackers have even suggested the rigging of the boat with landmines and explosives to blast the whole yacht with the first shot,” said the pirate, who gave his name as Mohamed Abdullahi, who claimed to be a friend of the pirates holding the four Americans.
Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, the head of Dryad Maritime Intelligence, said he was confused by this turn of events.
“We hear threats against the lives of Americans before, but it seems very, very unusual why they kill the hostages, pure and simple,” he said, adding that the pirates have to realize that the killing of Americans invite a military response.
The military said U.S. forces followed the quest for about three days, since shortly after the attack by pirates on Friday. Four Navy ships were involved, including an aircraft carrier.
Last week, a Somali pirate has been sentenced to 33 years imprisonment by a court in New York for the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, an American ship. This diversion ended when the Navy snipers killed two pirates holding the ship’s captain.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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