Negotiations between Somali elders and US officials broke down today over the return of American captain Richard Phillips, who is still being held by pirates on the Indian Ocean, the New York Times reports. Talks collapsed when the elders demanded that Somali authorities let the pirates go in exchange for Phillips' return. The pirates were willing to forgo their requested $2 million ransom.
A few hours earlier, pirates holding Phillips off the coast of Somalia fired warning shots at an approaching US Navy vessel. The American boat held its fire and “did not want to escalate the situation,” an official said. Meanwhile, the crew on board the docked Maersk Alabama, once helmed by Phillips, are staying on board what the FBI considers a crime scene. “He saved our lives!” one shipman said of Phillips. "He's a hero."