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Negotiations Resume for Captain's Release, Lifeboat Surrounded

Last night negotiations broke down between the Somali elders and U.S. negotiators for the release of hostage Captain Richard Phillips. The sticking point was whether the Somali pirates should be arrested and turned over to authorities for prosecution.

Today, the Somali elders are trying again.

Media reports said that Somali elders set off from the port of Eyl on Sunday in a fresh attempt to find a compromise that will secure Phillip's release.

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Pirate Ship With Capt. Phillips Close to Reaching Shore

Apparently, the pirates have fuel after all, and are within 20 miles of reaching shore, with kidnapped Captain Phillips, who is still alive.

The New York Times reports negotiations have failed because the U.S. is insisting on arresting the pirates. As experts predicted last night, the pirates are willing to release Captain Phillips without the ransom if they don't get arrested.

The priority should be the safe return of Captain Phillips, not retribution. Prosecuting these particular pirates will not stop the next hijacking. Until the conditions in Somalia causing the piracy are addressed, the hijackings will continue.

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Who Are the Somali Pirates?

The AP has a long and interesting article on the background of the Somali pirates. Not surprisingly, they come from the ranks of the young, poor and unemployed, looking for a way out of despair.

Hostages say they are generally well treated, with the pirates viewing them as common men caught in a wider game: the pursuit of million-dollar ransoms from owners. Some have described the pirates slaughtering and roasting goats on board to feed them, and passing around satellite phones to let them call loved ones back home.

As for a solution, this makes sense:

All analysts agree that the best way to quash piracy off Somalia is to achieve stability onshore, where civil conflict has raged for the last 18 years.

Update below from a Kenyan newspaper:

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Somali Pirates Hijack Another U.S. Owned Vessel

Things are not looking up in the Gulf of Aden. The Somali pirates have hijacked a U.S. owned tugboat with 16 crew members on board. The boat flies under an Italian flag.

The pirates are threatening "a disaster" if a rescue attempt is made for Captain Phillips.

"I'm afraid this matter is likely to create disaster because it is taking too long and we are getting information that the Americans are planning rescue tricks like the French commandos did," Abdi Garad said.

The warship USS Bainbridge is on scene and other American warships are en route. The pirates intend to move Capt Richard Phillips from the lifeboat to a bigger boat. Experts predict the pirates will cave in. [More...]

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Amphibious Assault Ship En Route to Pirate Ship Site

The USS Boxer is en route to scene of the pirate hostage standoff. Who knew we even had such a vessel?

The Boxer is the flag ship for a multination anti-piracy task force. The Boxer resembles a small aircraft carrier. It has a crew of more than 1,000, a mobile hospital, missile launchers and about two dozen helicopters and attack planes.

I wonder how long it will take to get there?

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Pirates Recapture Captain After Failed Escape

Captain Richard Phillips tried to escape from the Somali pirates by jumping off the lifeboat, but was recaptured.

Negotiations are ongoing for his release. Ransom demands have been made. The lifeboat is out of fuel. There are no toilets on the lifeboat.

I think the pirates will release the Captain. I hope I'm right.

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Somali Pirates Hold U.S. Ship Captain Hostage

The FBI has sent hostage negotiators to try and obtain the release of the U.S. Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips being held hostage by Somali pirates. The pirates have sent reinforcements to their comrades.

Captain Phillips selflessly volunteered himself to protect the other crew members. Let's hope for his safe return. [More...]

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