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US freight captain rescued

The five day standoff between Somali pirates who were holding a U.S. captain hostage and the Navy ended dramatically Easter Sunday when snipers killed the three pirates.

Freighter Capt. Richard Phillips, 53, was taken hostage by pirates who tried to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama on Wednesday. Phillips was held on a small lifeboat that was making its way to the dangerous Somalian coast.

President Barack Obama personally approved the rescue operation, which helped quell fears that the standoff could drag on for months, even though warships were at th scene.

Navy snipers killed the three pirates when one pointed an AK-47 at the back of Phillips, who was tied up and in danger of being killed, the Star Tribune reported.

The commander of the nearly USS Bainbridge ordered his men to shoot, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said.

Phillips' crew said that they were saved by his action to offer himself as a hostage, MSNBC.com reported.

The crew waved an American flag and shot flares in celebration when their captain was rescued.

According to MSNBC.com, Jamac Habeb, a self-proclaimed pirate told The Associated Press that this was a good lesson, and that the pirates will now kill foreign hostages if their country tries to attack.