Pirates Want $2M Ransom, Threaten to Kill Captain

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2009 1:39 PM CDT
Capt. Richard Phillips, in a file photo.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Somali pirates holding an American ship captain hostage say they want a $2 million ransom and have threatened to kill him, Reuters and the AP report. The ransom demand followed an escape attempt by Richard Phillips, who attempted to swim for safety early this morning. Reports conflict on what happened next—either a pirate jumped in after him and hauled him back, or Phillips returned after one of the captors fired an automatic weapon.

After the escape attempt, the pirates dumped a two-way radio and a satellite phone Phillips was using to communicate with the Navy into the ocean. The standoff appears likely to continue. Fellow pirates are sailing other seized ships toward the lifeboat, hoping to somehow help the bandits get to land to improve their odds of escape. The US, meanwhile, is beefing up its arsenal as well.