[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/08/ship.hijacked/art.alva.maersk.jpg caption="Attackers hijacked the Maersk Alabama, shown here, formerly known as the Alva Maersk."]
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.
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