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Somali Pirates Kill 4 Americans on Hijacked Ship

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2011 – Somali pirates killed all four Americans they had held hostage aboard a sailing vessel in the Indian Ocean this morning, U.S. Central Command officials announced.

U.S. officials were negotiating with the pirates for the safe return of the captured Americans when the murders took place, officials said.

Centcom officials said that in the midst of negotiations, U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the S/V Quest. When the forces reached the boat, officials said, they discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds.

During the boarding, the Somali pirates fired on the U.S. forces, who killed two pirates and captured 13 others. U.S. forces already had captured two other pirates, and the servicemembers boarding the Quest found the remains of two other pirates.

“In total, it is believed 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking of the S/V Quest,” Centcom officials said.

“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, Centcom’s commander.

The pirates seized the boat Feb. 18 off the coast of Oman. Somali pirates -– often operating from mother ships far out to sea -- have captured scores of ships and generally have held the ships and crews for ransom. News reports indicate Somali pirates currently hold 29 ships with more than 660 hostages.

Piracy in the region occurred originally off of Somalia’s east coast for several years. In August 2009, the pirates extended their attacks to the Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somalia’s north coast. The pirates since have ranged farther out to sea -– up to 600 miles –- and now affect more than a million square miles in the Gulf of Aden, the west Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

The United States has worked closely with regional and international partners to attack the problem. In this case, American forces closely monitored and tailed the Quest. Four U.S. Navy warships made up a response force dedicated to recovering the S/V Quest: the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, the guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Bulkeley.


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Related Sites:
U.S. Central Command
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces


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The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

2/23/2011 9:34:45 PM
All pirates on the open seas when captured should be hung by the neck till DEAD. Blockade of their homeland and swift fatal punishment. No trial in the US courts and put away in Federal prison. Just a waste of tax-payers money. If they somehow make it to our court system again; hung by the neck till DEAD!
- Bob, Texas

2/23/2011 8:30:45 AM
Why should Obama do any thing about this horrible incident. Everything is falling into place perfectly according to his plan. He told us this 4 yeaars ago but idiots voted him in anyway. Shame on them.
- Gary, Annapolis

2/23/2011 7:50:44 AM
These pirates should be shot at sea and left floating for the fishes. They do not deserve a trial in the US. The world laughs at us for this do gooder atitude. These people commit these crimes and should be held responsible with their lives regardless of their age or sex. All ships coming out of the Somalia ports should be stopped and searched and if found pirate operated should be sunk at once with crews aboard. Mabe then this will stop. Cut them off at the KNEES.
- Michael, PR

2/22/2011 5:27:20 PM
Somalia Pirates Kill Bible Thumpers… These perverted/animalistic pirates, preying on the hapless travelers has got to stop! When is enough going to happen before the U.S. Government does something? As in something like our Marines attacking the Barbary Coast Pirates 1801-1805 in Tripoli! America does not need another war to endanger our young soldiers but this unwarranted murder of innocent personnel is too much. It is time for American and any other forces that are willing to attack this situation head on! Me being an ex-Army helicopter pilot; I can sympathize with the horror of “Blackhawk Down” in the same AO! But time has come to declare war on the worthless pirates of Somalia! Your attention to the above is appreciated. Sincerely, Robert F. Chaison Ex-CWO, 1st Lt., Brevet CPT Army Reserve US Army Commercial Helicopter Pilot
- Robert, Temple, Texas

2/22/2011 12:11:29 PM
I am really curious what options International Maritime Laws provides to captains of Nationally-flagged warships. Can't pirates be tried and executed by captains of nationally-flagged vessels? It seems that playing with kid gloves isn't going to work with these people. Perhaps executing pirates at sea, instead of hosing them at my expense in U.S. prisons, would be a cost-saving measure. It is certainly more fiscally responsible that the alternative. There's my suggestion of the week for saving the U.S. money. Try pirates on the high seas, if, and only if, International Maritime Law allows.
- Max Maxfield, U.S.A.

2/22/2011 11:08:36 AM
How sad for the families of those who were kidnapped and murdered. So far there doesn't appear to be any real consequences for those engaging in piracy and now four Americans are dead. So what will happen now? We will bring them back to America, spend our tax dollars trying them while they laugh at us and it's a circus? I don't believe one dollar ought to be spent on these people - if you can call them that. Crimes of piracy and murder on the high seas ought to be dealt with out on the high seas... and that's that. As of now, Americans are viewed as a joke by these people. I saw the 'pirate' from the last hostage situation being led to court the other day, and he was laughing the whole way. If you are not an American citizen, you don't have the 'right' to anything... and if you're caught murdering our citizens in such an outrageous manner, you ought to be dealt with the same way you dealt with the American Citizens you just murdered. Period.
- Kay, Kentucky

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