Somali pirates demand $2 million ransom for US captain held hostage

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

According to maritime authorities, Somali pirates that have been holding hostage a United States-flagged ship's captain in a lifeboat off the coast of Somalia demanded a ransom of US$2 million for his release.

Montage of Somali Pirates.
Image: Spencer.

The four pirates are holding Captain Richard Phillips aboard the lifeboat of the 17,000-tonne ship the Maersk Alabama, after a failed attempt to hijack the vessel.

Philips tried to escape from the pirates on Thursday by jumping out of the lifeboat and trying to swim to a US Navy destroyer nearby, but was recaptured by his captors.

Meanwhile, pirates who have seized a German vessel and its crew off the coast of Somalia were en route for the lifeboat, according to a pirate source.

"Knowing that the Americans will not destroy this German ship and its foreign crew, they [the pirates] hope they can meet their friends on the lifeboat," he said. "Our friends [aboard the lifeboat] hope for $2 million ransom as well as their own safety."

In a separate incident on Friday, the government of France stated that its navy seized a yacht that had been hijacked by the pirates in Somalian waters, but one of the hostages had been killed in a struggle between French special forces and the pirates.