Pirates on a German ship with 24 foreign hostages said on Saturday they had returned to the Somali coast after failing to locate the scene of a standoff involving an American captive on a drifting lifeboat.
The pirates had hoped to use the hijacked 20,000-tonne container vessel, Hansa Stavanger, as a “shield” to reach fellow pirates holding American ship captain Richard Phillips far out in the Indian Ocean. U.S. naval ships are close to the lifeboat.
“We have come back to Haradheere coast. We could not locate the lifeboat,” one pirate on the German ship, who identified himself as Suleiman, told Reuters. “We almost got lost because we could not find the bearing of the lifeboat.”
The German ship was seized off south Somalia between Kenya and the Seychelles and has a crew of 24.
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Somali elders and relatives of pirates holding Phillips are planning a mediation mission to secure his release, a regional maritime group said.
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“They want to resolve this in the traditional Somali way of negotiations,” Andrew Mwangura told Reuters. “They are just looking to arrange safe passage for the pirates, no ransom.”
Separately, French special forces stormed a yacht held by pirates elsewhere in the lawless stretch of the Indian Ocean in an assault that killed one hostage, but freed four.
Two pirates were killed and three captured.