US navy 'provoked yachtsmen death'
Mogadishu - The high-seas shoot-out that left four Americans dead after their yacht was hijacked in the Indian Ocean was provoked by the US navy's intervention, Somali pirates said on Wednesday.
The US military said that four Americans onboard a yacht captured on Friday had been killed by their pirate captors on Tuesday.
"We got information that the American hostages were killed after the US navy stormed the yacht," a senior commander from the pirate lair of Garacad, in Somalia's northern self-declared state of Puntland, said.
"They tried to rescue the hostages but unfortunately heavy gunfire was exchanged and they (the hostages) died as a result," the pirate, who asked to be named only as Ali, told AFP.
He did not further elaborate on the exact circumstances of the four hostages' death.
According to Vice Admiral Mark Fox, head of the US Naval Forces Central Command based in Bahrain, two of the pirates had been brought onboard a nearby US warship to conduct negotiations to free the hostages.
Then on Tuesday morning, with "absolutely no warning", the pirates launched a rocket-propelled grenade at the warship, the USS Sterett, though several Somalis also raised their arms in surrender on the yacht's deck, Fox said.
US Special Forces raced to the yacht on small boats. By the time they boarded, they heard gunfire and saw that all four Americans had been shot, Fox said. They died after efforts to treat them failed.
He said two pirates were killed in the assault.