Somali pirates kill four americans including Seattle couple

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A Seattle couple is among the dead in a hijacking off the coast of Somalia.  Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle and their friends, Jean and Scott Adam from California were on board a yacht when they were hijacked by Somali pirates Friday.

Q13 FOX News spoke to friends of the Seattle couple.  Hank Curci of the Seattle Singles Yacht Club says he is in shock over what happened to their friends.  He says it's 'like losing a family member.'  

Curci describes Riggle as a great sailer and Macay as an outgoing woman with a smile always on her face.  The couple met as members of the Seattle Singles Yacht Club.  

The two were killed alongside the Adam's.  Negotiations were underway to free them when gunfire erupted aboard the S/V Quest said the U.S. Central Command in a statement Tuesday.

"As they responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors.  Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds," the statement said.

The U.S. military said the pirates shot the hostages before American special forces boarded the vessel. 

Troops killed two pirates and took 15 others into custody.  Another two pirates were found dead on the yacht. 

"We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest," said Gen James N. Mattis, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command.

U.S. forces had been monitoring the S/V Quest for three days before the deadly confrontation.

"The intent always had been that this would be a negotiated process and not ever go into a point where we actually had gunfire," said Vice Admiral Mark Fox, the head of U.S. naval forces in the turbulent region.

President Barack Obama had authorized the use of force in the case of an imminent threat to the hostages, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

President Obama was notified at 4:42 Tuesday morning (E.T.) that the four Americans had been shot and killed. 

A Somali pirate told Reuters Tuesday that the U.S. Reaction Force fired first.   He said, "The U.S. warship shot in the head two of my comrades who were on the deck of the yacht...  This is the time we ordered the other comrades inside yacht to react -- kill the four Americans because there was no other alternative -- then our line got cut."

An aircraft carrier, a guided-missile cruiser and two guided-missile destroyers composed the reaction force. The U.S. Navy ships were in the region to conduct "maritime security operations" and provide support for U.S. operations, the statement said.

The Americans were traveling the world delivering Bibles to schools and churches. They started their world tour in 2004.

The two couples had been sailing with other yachts participating in the Blue Water Rally since their departure from Phuket, Thailand, rally organizers said Sunday.

Blue Water Rally said in a statement, the S/V Quest broke off on February 15 after leaving Mumbai, India, to take a different route.

The hijacking was first reported Friday, by Ecoterra International, which monitors regional maritime activity.

Fellow boaters say the group was aware of the danger from pirates in the area, but were determined to make the journey themselves rather than shipping their boat.

Piracy has flourished off the coast of Somalia, which has not had an effective government for two decades. In April 2009, pirates seized the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama, leading to a standoff in the Indian Ocean.  U.S. forces moved to rescue American Capt. Richard Phillips after seeing a pirate aiming a weapon on his back, officials said at the time.


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