US Navy tries to free Richard Phillips from Somali pirates
The US Navy is trying to free Richard Phillips, the American captain being held hostage by Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia. Somali elders are trying to mediate between the pirates and the Navy, but the four pirates are with Phillips in a lifeboat and have demanded $2 million for his release and guarantee for their safety.
The ship, the Bainbridge, with the rest of the crew has docked in Mombassa, but because the FBI has deemed the ship a crime scene, the crew cannot be released at this time, and the media will not have access to them.
It is not known at this time what the condition of Richard Phillips is aboard the lifeboat. He is one of 260 hostages being held by pirates from Somalia. There are now three US warships in the area.
"They are just looking to arrange safe passage for the pirates, no ransom," said group coordinator Andrew Mwangura.
Pirates seized another vessel on Saturday, a U.S.-owned, Italian-flagged tugboat with 10 Italians and six others on board, NATO alliance officials on a warship in the region said.
A rocket was fired by attackers into the cabin of an officer of another ship in the Gulf of Aden, but it did not explode and that crew managed to fight off the attakcers with water hoses.
Richard Phillips did try to escape at one point, but he didn't get far and was re-captured.
"What continues to be our number one priority is the safe and healthy return of the captain," said a Pentagon spokesman.
The pirates have said that they willd defend themselves if attacked however. Phillips volunteered to get in the lifeboat in exchange for the safety of his crew.
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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia