Pentagon Confirms Four Americans Killed By Somali Pirates

The four Americans taken hostage last week off the coast of Somali were shot and killed by their captors Tuesday.

U.S. Navy forces responded to gun shot fire onboard the pirated yacht, QUEST, and found all four Americans had been shot. They all died as a result of their wounds.

American forces killed two pirates and captured 15 others. Two more pirates were found dead on the ship. In total the U.S. said 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking.

U.S. forces say negotiations were underway to free the two couples.

In a release from the American Forces Press Service, Navy Vice Admiral Mark I. Fox gave a timeline of the incident:

Pirates captured the vessel about 190 nautical miles southeast of Masirah Island, Oman, Feb. 18. Four U.S. Navy warships responded: the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Bulkeley.

The ships found the vessel and made contact with the pirates via bridge-to-bridge radio, and began a series of negotiations. Yesterday, two pirates boarded the USS Sterett to continue negotiations.

"At 8 a.m. this morning ... a rocket-propelled grenade was fired by the pirates from the Quest toward the Sterett," Fox said. "Immediately thereafter, gunfire erupted from inside the cabin of the Quest. Several pirates appeared on the deck of the Quest and moved up to the bow with their hands in the air in surrender."

U.S. special operations forces closed in on the Quest in small boats and boarded the yacht. "They discovered that all four hostages had been shot by their captors," Fox said. The service members took immediate steps to provide medical care, but the four Americans died of their wounds. The boarding party also found two dead pirates aboard the vessel.

Fox also said that two additional pirates were killed while clearing the vessel. One was killed with a pistol and the other in a knife fight. The Navy says there were no casualties to service members or damage to any U.S. Navy ships during the incident.

Jean and Scot Adam from southern California, and Phyllis MacKay and Bob Riggle from Washington State were sailing the world on a Christian mission to distribute bibles. Mackay and Riggle met up with the Adam’s in India and took off sailing on the Adam’s yacht. The Adam’s had called their yacht home since December 2004.