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The 4 hostages of the SV Quest are dead: in the assault?

The USS Bulkeley one of the pursuers of the SV Quest (credit: US Army)

It is the central command of the US armies which tells us this. The 4 hostages who were on board the yacht SV Quest are dead, “killed by their captors”. According to the official version, given by the US command, it was around 1 a.m. EST (11 a.m. local) when the event occurred. The negotiations "were underway to obtain the release of the four hostages. US forces have (then) responded to gunfire from the hijacked ship. They reached the SV Quest, got on board, and discovered the four hostages (who) had been killed by their captors. Despite the immediate treatment provided, the four hostages ultimately succumbed to their injuries.”

There were, according to initial information, 19 pirates on board. “During the assault, two pirates were killed“. And the lifeless bodies of two (other) pirates were found on board. The 13 surviving pirates were captured, joining the other two already captured by the pirates. 15 are therefore in the hands of the Americans who could transmit them to American justice.

The naval forces followed the S.V. Quest for about 3 days after its capture. No less than 4 ships had been assigned to this task: the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84).

An official version to be taken conditionally

Comments : There is no a priori reason to doubt this version of the facts presented by the American High Command. But there is no reason to believe her completely either. Especially since the given version includes many 'black holes'. First of all, there were exchanges of fire before the assault: 2 pirates found lifeless on board and 2 others captured. Then, there was a collision (preceded and followed by a new exchange of fire). Finally, the hostages still alive when the Marines arrive die quickly. But the US forces tell us straight away, and unequivocally, that they were killed by the pirates. Unless they were executed under the eyes of the military (or before their arrival), we could be more cautious and wait for the investigation by the (American) justice system which will undoubtedly follow to enlighten us.

A caution which is also explained by the antecedents. There is an unfortunate precedent: the British hostage in Afghanistan “executed by her captors” who was later discovered to have been an American grenade, dropped by one of her liberators which had killed her. It cannot therefore be completely excluded, at this time, that one or more hostages were killed by friendly fire. Caution aside, we must not forget one fact: the cause of this death was the taking of hostages by the pirates. The result was 4 Americans killed, 4 Somalis killed. Piracy is beginning to be anything but a “gentlemen’s struggle”.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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