Wire: Obama Mum as Pirate Standoff Escalates
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, April 10, 2009 -- Newswires reported today that escalating a dramatic Indian Ocean standoff, more U.S. warships -- as well as pirate reinforcements with an international gallery of hostages -- rushed Friday toward the spot where four Somali bandits are holding a U.S. sea captain aboard a drifting lifeboat.
The Associated Press reported that the pirates apparently fear being shot or arrested if they hand over Capt. Richard Phillips -- captured in a failed effort to seize the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday -- and hope to link up with their colleagues who are using Russian, German, Filipino and other hostages captured in recent days as human shields.
Pirates have been holding Phillips hostage aboard the lifeboat since his crew thwarted the attack Wednesday on the 17,000-ton U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama.
President Barack Obama is getting regular updates on the situation, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Obama has yet to make a formal public statement regarding the incident. He brushed off a reporter's question Thursday, an AP report noted.
FBI hostage negotiators started Thursday to work with the U.S. military to secure Phillips' release.
However, Steve Romano, a retired head of the FBI hostage negotiation team, said he doesn't recall the FBI ever negotiating with pirates before.
AP reported that U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus said U.S. warships also are headed to the area, more than 300 miles (480 kilometers) off Somalia's Indian Ocean coast.
"We want to ensure that we have all the capability that might be needed over the course of the coming days," he said.
This is a developing story with more to follow.
(Report from commercial news media sources.)
Pirate ships converge on US hostage at sea
Obama quiet on pirate drama
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