US Navy gearing for standoff with Somali pirates

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Washington, Apr 9 (ANI): The United States is gearing up for a standoff with the band of Somali pirates who hijacked a US-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Somalia, as a Navy warship reportedly arrived at the scene early on Thursday.

The crew of the Maersk Alabama were able to regain control of the vessel on Wednesday, but the pirates escaped with the captain as captive, FOX News reported.

Kevin Speers, a spokesman for the owner of ship, said that a US Navy warship arrived at the scene, and the pirates and their hostage were a short distance away in one of the ship's lifeboats.

Family members said Captain Richard Phillips surrendered to the pirates to secure the safety of the crew.

"What I understand is that he offered himself as the hostage. That is what he would do. It's just who he is and his response as a captain," said Gina Coggio, half sister of Phillips' wife.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for world action to end the scourge of piracy as US warships raced to confront the pirates.

"Specifically, we are now focused on this particular act of piracy and the seizure of a ship that carries 21 American citizens. More generally, we think the world must come together to end the scourge of piracy," she said.

A defense official said four pirates are in the lifeboat with their captive, and there is no clear evidence that a pirate remains captive with the US crew. (ANI)

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