Four Americans aboard a yacht hijacked by Somali pirates have been killed, Fox News has confirmed.
U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the yacht Quest at approximately 1 a.m. Tuesday, but discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages died of their wounds.
“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Gen James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander in a news release.
Two pirates died during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained, along with two pirates already in custody. U.S. forces also found the remains of two other pirates already dead aboard the vessel and believe a total of 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking.
The yacht Quest was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Oman and U.S. forces had been closely monitoring the vessel.
Pirates have increased attacks on ships off the coast of East Africa, but Americans have rarely been targeted. The last attack against a U.S. crew — in 2009 — ended with Navy sharpshooters killing two pirates and rescuing the ship’s captain.