By Joe Kishore
13 April 2009
US special operations forces carried out a commando operation Sunday against Somali pirates holding the captain of a US freight vessel. The captain, Richard Phillips, was freed and military sharpshooters killed three of the Somalis.
Piracy has become increasingly common in the waters off the coast of Somalia—in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden—as the political and social situation in the country has deteriorated. However, this is the first hijacking involving a US-flagged vessel. Most of these incidents are resolved peacefully, and the ransom demanded by hostage-takers is seen by freight companies as a cost of doing business.
In this case, the hostage-taking was quickly transformed into a standoff between the pirates and the US military. As international media attention focused on the incident, the Obama administration saw it as an opportunity to reassert US military power and demonstrate Obama’s own willingness to make the “tough decision” to use lethal force.
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