Efforts to rescue four Americans who were on board the yacht hijacked by pirates off the waters of Indian Ocean last week ended tragically Tuesday when all four were killed by their captors.
U.S. forces who were in pursuit of the seized vessel Quest, discovered ship owners Jean and Scott Adam as well as their companions Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle dead when rescue operatives boarded the vessel about 1 a.m. ET, according to officials.
-Minutes before the U.S. forces took control of the vessel, pirates fought it out with the U.S. Navy using rocket propelled grenade. At one point the sound of gunfire could be heard on board the Quest, according to U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Mark Fox in an interview with reporters.
“Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds,” the U.S. Central Command said.
Fox added that the incident occurred as negotiations were being done by FBI agents to secure the release of the hostages. The talks involved two parates who boarded the U.S. Navy ship to negotiate their terms.
However, no information on the details of the negotiation was made available or whether ransom had been discussed.
Two pirates were killed by the U.S. forces during the clearing operations while thirteen others were captured and detained. A total of 19 pirates were apprehended by the pursuing US Navy shipment.
The U.S. officials said both the Adams were from Marina del Rey, California, while and Macay and Riggle were from Seattle.
Earlier, information about the Adams’ worldwide voyage were available through their website which chronicled the couple’s trips since 2004. The trips include New Zealand, China, Cambodia and Panama.
“Our mission is to allow the power of the word to transform lives … (and) seek fertile ground for the word and homes for our Bibles,” the Adams said on their site.
A website entry posted earlier this year indicated they would refuel in Djibouti waters, which is considered as a pirate flash point.
The detained pirates were now being held on a U.S. warship, Fox said, adding that, “we will go through the appropriate process to bring them to a judicial process and hold them accountable for their activities.”
In Washington, the Justice Department issued a brief comment, with department spokesman Dean Boyd saying the United States “is committed to working with our international partners to ensure that the perpectrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice.”