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Pirates can't find comrades

Pirates can't find comrades
Pirates on a German ship with 24 foreign hostages said Saturday they had returned to the Somali coast after failing to locate the scene of a standoff involving an American captive on a drifting lifeboat.

Pirates on a German ship with 24 foreign hostages said Saturday they had returned to the Somali coast after failing to locate the scene of a standoff involving an American captive on a drifting lifeboat.

Pirates on a German ship with 24 foreign hostages said Saturday they had returned to the Somali coast after failing to locate the scene of a standoff involving an American captive on a drifting lifeboat.

The pirates had hoped to use the hijacked 20,000-tonne container vessel, Hansa Stavanger, as a "shield" to reach fellow pirates holding American ship captain Richard Phillips far out in the Indian Ocean. U.S. naval ships are close to the lifeboat.

"We have come back to Haradheere coast. We could not locate the lifeboat," one pirate on the German ship, who identified himself as Suleiman, told.

"We almost got lost because we could not find the bearing of the lifeboat."

The German ship was seized off south Somalia between Kenya and the Seychelles and has a crew of 24.

Somali elders and relatives of pirates holding Phillips are planning a mediation mission to secure his release, a regional maritime group said.

"They want to resolve this in the traditional Somali way of negotiations," Andrew Mwangura told. "They are just looking to arrange safe passage for the pirates, no ransom."

Separately, French special forces stormed a yacht held by pirates elsewhere in the lawless stretch of the Indian Ocean in an assault that killed one hostage, but freed four.

Two pirates were killed and three captured.

More U.S. warships have been sent toward the powerless lifeboat drifting in international waters off Somalia, where pirates have been holding Phillips since trying to hijack his ship, the 17,000-tonne, Danish-owned Maersk Alabama, on Wednesday.

The American captain apparently volunteered to get in the lifeboat with the pirates in exchange for the safety of his crew, who regained control of the Maersk Alabama, which is carrying food relief to Kenya. Later Phillips tried to escape by jumping overboard, but was quickly recaptured.

Close by, the destroyer USS Bainbridge launched drones that monitored the incident and kept radio contact with the pirates. The Bainbridge wants a peaceful outcome to the standoff with the assistance of FBI experts, a U.S. official said.

Other hostages

Phillips is one of about 250 hostages being held by Somali pirates preying on the busy sea lanes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

The biggest nationality among the hostages is Filipino and the pirates are keeping about 16 captured vessels at or near lairs like Eyl, Hobyo and Haradheere on Somalia's eastern coast -- five of them taken in the last week alone.

Yet the fact Phillips is the first U.S. citizen seized has galvanized intense world attention.

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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