An American ship captain was freed unharmed Sunday in a U.S. Navy operation that killed three of the four Somali pirates who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, a senior U.S. intelligence official said.
One of the pirates was wounded and in custody after a swift firefight, the official said.
From the Associated Press:
From the LA Times:
“It’s outstanding news,” Adm. Greg Smith of Central Command said. “We got the captain back, which is the outcome we wanted to see happen, his safe and secure return.”
“Regrettably, three pirates made a choice that ended in the loss of their lives. One did not and is in our custody and will of course be treated responsibly and held responsible,” said Smith, adding that a news conference was being planned in Bahrain to provide more details about the operation.
Smith suggested that the three Somali pirates who were with Phillips fought back. The rescue most likely was carried out by a specially trained team of Navy SEALs or other special forces, who were in the region as part of a massive U.S. government effort to free Phillips.
“Incredible team effort” says the U.S. navy Commander of the area….Vice Admiral William E. Gortney of the 5th Fleet….
The captain of the Maersk Alabama was freed Sunday after being held captive since Wednesday by pirates off the coast of Somalia, a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is being held by pirates on a lifeboat off Somalia.
The official said Capt. Richard Phillips is uninjured and in good condition, and that three of the four pirates were killed. The fourth pirate is in custody. Phillips was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship.
Earlier Sunday afternoon Maersk Line Limited, owner of the Maersk Alabama, said the U.S. Navy informed the company that it had sighted Phillips in a lifeboat where pirates are holding him.
Phillips was spotted another time earlier in the day, the Navy said.
A man who answered the door at Phillips’ home in Underhill, Vermont, told CNN’s Stephanie Elam that the family has known the news for hours. He said details would have to come from Virginia, apparently referring to the home base of Maersk Line Limited, based in Norfolk, which owns the ship.
On Saturday, the FBI launched a criminal investigation into the hijacking of the U.S.-flagged cargo ship by Somali pirates, two law enforcement officials told CNN. The probe will be led by the FBI’s New York field office, which is responsible for looking into cases involving U.S. citizens in the African region, the officials said.