Somali pirate drama ends with death of American hostages
The U.S. military's attempt to rescue four American hostages from pirates in the Gulf of Aden derailed Tuesday morning. The military was in radio communication with the pirates when shots were heard, officials said.
Then, a U.S. Special Forces team boarded the Quest and engaged in a brief firefight with the heavily armed pirates. All four hostages had been shot by the pirates, officials said.
The victims were Jean and Scott Adam of Southern California and Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle of Seattle. None of the U.S. forces were injured.
Two pirates were killed and 13 taken prisoner; the bodies of two more pirates were found on the Quest. The four hostages died despite emergency medical care.
The U.S. already had two pirates as prisoners, although the circumstances of their capture are unclear. In all, the U.S. Central Command said it believed 19 pirates were involved in capturing the Quest.
The four ships that had been shadowing the Quest were the carrier Enterprise, guided missile cruiser Leyte Gulf, and guided missile destroyers Sterett and Bulkeley. The four were in the region to support anti-piracy efforts and missions involving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Central Command.
The U.S. is part of an anti-piracy coalition based in Bahrain with ships from several countries. Piracy off Somalia’s east coast has plagued shipping for several years, with ships held for ransom.
In late 2009, U.S. officials noted that the pirates extended the range of their attacks to the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia’s north coast. The pirates are also ranging farther out to sea, 600 miles in some cases.
-- Tony Perry
Upper photo: Scott and Jean Adam in an undated photo. Credit: svquest.com
Lower photo: Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle on June 11, 2005. Credit: Joe Grande / Associated Press