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Tonight on the high seas off the coast of Somali, a potentially deadly standoff is underway. Four pirates armed with assault riffles are holding an American hostage, Captain Richard Phillips. We're told he's being held in a 28-foot lifeboat.
Just moments ago, a U.S. Navy ship arrived on the scene.
The captain's crew has regained control of their U.S. freighter. At one point they tried to get their captain back. In a ship-to-shore phone call with CNN, one of the crew members told us, "We had a pirate we took and kept him for 12 hours. We tied him up and he was our prisoner." The crew gave back their prisoner, but the pirates reneged on the plan and kept the captain.
The crew is now trying to offer the pirates whatever they can, including food, but they admit it's not working.
Just who are these pirates and what do they want? We'll dig into those questions tonight on AC360°.
While doing research on this story today I found some alarming statistics on piracy.
– Six vessels have been hijacked in the last 48 hours
– Since January, there have been a total of 66 hijackings
– Pirates are still holding 14 ships and 260 crew members as hostages
– More than 100 hijackings last year, including 42 off the coast of Somalia
Source: International Maritime Bureau
The big question tonight: Will the U.S. Navy take action against these pirates holding Capt. Phillips. Do you think they should? Share your thoughts below.
Join us for this story and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!
British police Wednesday arrested 12 people in a counterterrorism operation, and locations were being searched, authorities said.
Arrests were carried out in a series of raids in northwest England, police said. Participating agencies included Merseyside Police, Greater Manchester Police and the Lancashire Constabulary, according to a statement from Greater Manchester Police.
The statement said police would not divulge or confirm any of the addresses being searched.
"As the operation is still ongoing and is at an early stage, we would appreciate media understanding and cooperation," it said.
Merseyside police issued a similar statement.
"Today's action is part of an ongoing investigation and we have acted on intelligence received," said Steve Ashley, chief superintendent of Merseyside police.
"We understand that this kind of police activity can cause concerns to people living in nearby communities. The extra patrols, cordons and measures we have in place have been implemented to make sure we are doing everything we can to reassure the public and maintain public safety."
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, in a written statement, congratulated police for the "successful anti-terrorism operation which has resulted in 12 arrests at a number of locations."
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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner makes an announcement at the Treasury Department April 6, 2009. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Two American journalists are under arrest in North Korea and the communist country is planning to put the two women on trial for so-called “hostile acts.” The journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, stumbled across the Chinese border into North Korea while researching a documentary about starving North Korean refugees.
It is not clear when the North Koreans will hold their so-called trial but the situation is troubling, to say the least. Laura and Euna have been in custody since March 17th; and the government’s state-run news agency has “reported” that the women have implicated themselves during interrogations. North Korea is accusing these reporters of illegal entry and hostile acts, which they have yet to define.
I don’t know these women personally; but they are affiliated with Current TV. Current is the global television network for independent journalists started by my old boss, Al Gore. I know a lot of the people affiliated with Current and I know its very purpose is to give independent journalists a voice. Current is based in San Francisco, my old stomping ground, and I came up with some of the folks who file their reports with Current in the effort to influence what we see on television.
Laura Ling also happens to be sister to my colleague, former “View” co-host Lisa Ling. So, I know lots of people who do know these two reporters and from everything I’ve heard, they are not criminals; they are not spies. They are hard working journalists who have lost their freedom for attempting to tell the truth about a repressive regime; and we should all be calling for their release.
The crew of a U.S.-flagged container ship has retaken control of the ship from pirates but its captain is being held hostage, the freighter's second officer said Wednesday.
The USS Bainbridge, a guided-missile destroyer, is heading to the area to assist.
"There's four Somali pirates, and they've got our captain," Ken Quinn said in a ship-to-shore phone interview.
Capt. Richard Phillips is being held in the Maersk Alabama's 28-foot lifeboat, Quinn said.
The crew had a plan to make an exchange for their captain.
"We had a pirate we took and kept him for 12 hours," Quinn said. "We tied him up and he was our prisoner." Quinn describes the hijacking to CNN »
The crew gave back their prisoner but the pirates reneged on the plan and are continuing to hold Phillips captive.
"So now we're just trying to offer them whatever we can, food, but it's not working too good," he said.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge, part of the allied fleet that patrols the waterway, is headed to the area to assist, the U.S. Navy reported. Quinn said his sailors were trying to hold the pirates off for a few more hours, "and then we'll have a warship here to help us."
The 780-foot Alabama was carrying food aid bound for the Kenyan port of Mombasa for USAID, the U.N. World Food Program and the Christian charities WorldVision and Catholic Relief Services when it was seized, the ship's owner said. Twenty American crew members were on board.
Quinn said the pirates were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, but the freighter's crew carried no weapons.
The Americans locked themselves in the compartment that contains the ship's steering gear, where they remained for about 12 hours. The pirates "got frustrated because they couldn't find us," he said.
The pirates sank the small boat they used once they climbed aboard the freighter, Quinn said, so Phillips offered them the Alabama's 28-foot lifeboat and some money.
Vermont's House and Senate voted Tuesday to override the governor's veto of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.
The action makes Vermont the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriages. The others are Massachusetts, Connecticut and, as of last week, Iowa.
And yesterday, the Washington D.C. City Council voted 12-0 Tuesday in favor of allowing same-sex marriages performed in other states to be recognized in the nation's capital.
Is same-sex marriage gaining momentum? What are your questions about it? Text us your questions tonight to CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Text AC and your name, location and question to 94553!
Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about today's pirate attack on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
This map shows all the piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre during 2008. If exact coordinates are not provided, estimated positions are shown based on information provided. Zoom-in and click on the pointers to view more information of an individual attack.
Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from Erica Hill on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
President Barack Obama can’t stand to be without his “Entourage.”
Call it a guilty pleasure, or maybe it just rings familiar to him. The HBO series about an aspiring actor features a fast-talking agent named Ari, based on the real-life brother of Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
For less R-rated fare, he tunes into “Hannah Montana” or “SpongeBob SquarePants” in the White House with his daughters. Aides said he would have watched Monday night’s NCAA championship on TiVo on his way home from Iraq Tuesday night.
Jon Stewart’s smackdown of CNBC’s Jim Cramer? Obama was eager to see it. But when it comes to the real news, and not the fake kind, Obama takes a pass — rarely ever tuning into 24-hour cable chatter or replays of his own performances.
“We usually tell him how we think he did,” said longtime friend Valerie Jarrett.