MOGADISHU, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Somali pirate groups Tuesday vowed to kill American and French crews of ships hijacked by them after U.S. marines shot dead three of the four pirates holding a U.S. captain hostage, local media reports said.
The threat came after a three-day hostage drama of Captain Richard Phillips, who was abducted after his ship Maersk Alabama was briefly taken by Somali pirates, ended with the killing of three pirates and capture of the fourth by U.S. special forces.
"If they have started killing us, we (pirate groups) have decided to take revenge and kill any American or French crew or passenger members of ships we capture fishing in our seas," Jaama Siyad, a pirate spokesman told local Shabelle radio in Mogadishu.
Siyad said pirate gangs were in agreement that if any group hijack a ship with either a crew or a passenger from France or the U.S. they would immediately "shot them in the head".
Two Somali pirates were killed and four others captured by French commandos in a rescue operation on a French yacht off Somalia. Four French passengers were rescued while another was killed in the shootout between the pirates and French troops.
The Somali government has welcomed the rescue operations of both French and American troops saying it was the right thing to do in such circumstances. The Somali government has always been opposed to the payment of ransoms to pirates saying it encourages more pirate activities in the Horn of Africa coast.
Somali pirates are holding several ships with a couple of hundred crew members but it is not clear if they include American or French nationals.
Somali pirates do not usually harm their captives in expectation of the hefty ransom payout often received following negotiations with foreign governments or ship owners.
Dozens of countries have their navy patrolling the pirate infested Somali waters and the Gulf of Aden to prevent hijackings of commercial ships plying the important waterway after the UN Security Council authorized member states to fight piracy and the armed robbery at seas off Somalia last year.
Somali insurgents fire mortars toward visiting U.S. congressman
MOGADISHU, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Several mortars were fired on Monday at the Mogadishu airport as U.S. Congressman Donald Payne was about to leave the country after a brief visit during which he held meetings with senior Somali government officials.
At least three people were wounded after mortars landed in residential areas around the airport in the Somali capital. Security officials said Payne's plane left safely from the airport. Full story
Obama vows to halt piracy after rescue of American captain
WASHINGTON, April 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to halt the piracy off the Horn of Africa on Monday, one day after an American cargo boat captain was rescued from being taken hostage by Somali pirates.
"We are going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks," Obama said when he visited the Transportation Department. "We have to continue to be prepared to confront them when they arise and we have to ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes." Full story
U.S. military commander urges shipping industry to hire armed guards for boats
WASHINGTON, April 13 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. military commander urged the shipping companies on Monday to provide armed guards for their cargo boats in case of piracy in the Horn of Africa.
Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, who is in charge of the U.S. Navy's Central Command fleet, said during an interview with CNN that shipping companies needed to provide a last line of defense against being boarded by pirates, including armed guards and barbed wire around the lower parts of the ship, among others. Full story
Defense secretary: Killed Somali pirates were "untrained" teenagers
WASHINGTON, April 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday that three Somali pirates who were killed by the Navy's Seals to end a hostage crisis were "untrained" teenagers.
Addressing an audience at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia, Gates said that the slain pirates, aged at between 17 to 19, were heavily armed but inexperienced. Full story