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Hostage captain freed from Somali pirates

Navy snipers freed an American ship captain Sunday in an operation that left three pirates dead and one captured, the Guardian reported.

Richard Phillips, 53, was taken hostage by the pirates Wednesday when he volunteered to board their lifeboat in order to protect his crew. The crew later regained control of the ship.

Negotiations for his release began between the FBI, Somali elders and the pirates, but yielded little progress, the Guardian reported.

At the time of the rescue, the lifeboat was being towed by the USS Bainbridge, the Star Tribune reported. One of the pirates was on the Bainbridge in negotiations, while the other three were in the lifeboat , one of them pointing an AK-47 at Phillips.

The captain of the Bainbridge ordered his men to fire, and the three pirates aboard the lifeboat were killed. The pirate aboard the Bainbridge was taken into U.S. custody, the Star Tribune reported.

Phillips was flown to San Diego after the rescue.

Somali pirates have not killed hostages in the past, but rescues such as this may make the pirates more ruthless, maritime analysts told the Guardian.