Killed Somali pirates were all untrained boys with heavy weapons: Gates

April 14th, 2009 - 5:38 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr.14 (ANI): The Somali pirates picked off by Navy Seal sharpshooters for holding Captain. Richard Phillips hostage were a ragged band of boys with little experience, but had plenty of weapons, the New York Post quoted officials, as saying yesterday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the four brigands who took Phillips captive after a botched hijacking of the Maersk Alabama were only 17 to 19 years old.

“Untrained teenagers with heavy weapons,” Gates told a students and faculty at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia.

On Sunday, Navy SEAL snipers on the USS Bainbridge — perched on the ship’s fantail in choppy seas — fatally shot three of the brigands in the head on the lifeboat where they’d stowed Phillips.

Officials now are considering whether to bring the fourth pirate, who surrendered shortly before the shootings, to the United States, where he’d likely go on trial in New York or Washington, or turn him over to Kenya.

Gates warned that other desperate Somali youths would continue attacking merchant vessels in hopes of scoring huge ransoms.

Meanwhile, the American military yesterday was considering attacking pirate bases in Somalia, sending more Navy ships to the region and changing how naval vessels already there deal with the problem, officials said.

It was also weighing giving economic aid to destitute Somali residents, and is developing plans to help the country’s shaky government train security forces and develop a coast guard. (ANI)

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