[Updated at 9:24 a.m.] Negotiations were under way to free the hostages when gunfire erupted aboard the pirated vessel, a statement from U.S. Central Command said.
"As they responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds," the statement said.
A reaction force boarding the S/V Quest "was engaged by pirates," two of whom died during the confrontation. Thirteen other pirates were captured, along with two who were already in the custody of U.S. forces, according to central command.
Two other pirates were already dead when U.S. forces boarded the S/V Quest, the statement said. In all, 19 pirates are believed to have been involved in the hijacking.
U.S. forces had been monitoring the S/V Quest for about three days.
An aircraft carrier, a guided-missile cruiser and two guided-missile destroyers composed the reaction force. The U.S. Navy ships were in the region to conduct "maritime security operations" and provide support for U.S. operations, the statement said.
[Posted at 9:08 a.m. ET] Four U.S. citizens on a yacht hijacked by pirates last week are dead, a defense official with knowledge of military activities in the region confirmed Tuesday.
A U.S. Navy warship and helicopters were trailing the boat, the S/V Quest, which was allegedly hijacked by Somali pirates on Friday, U.S. military official said. Early Tuesday, an official said the vessel was less than two days away from Somali coast.
Owners Jean and Scott Adam and two other people on board, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, had been traveling with yachts participating in the Blue Water Rally since their departure from Phuket, Thailand, rally organizers said Sunday.
The group, which organizes long-distance group cruises, said the S/V Quest broke off on February 15 after leaving Mumbai, India, to take a different route.
At least one of the victims had two children who no longer have a father. My condolences to them and everyone else that lost a loved one.
Can't blow them to hell as the yacht needs to be saved. I do hope, however, they capture these thugs and torture the hell out of them. We need to take a strong stance that those who do this, will ultimately suffer a timely and fatal outcome. An eye for an eye.
Why doesn't the navy blow the pirate's vessel to hell.......??
I competly agree. These SOB's need to be exicuted, not put into someone's judical system. We do not have the rest of the story, but I really hope it will end like that. I think the poor families might agree with this too. I would.
In the old days, hijackers was hanged from the mast, if captured! They work well as shark food!
And the tax payer will pay for it all, nice ,they will have it better in the USA jails then in Somalia.........IT IS ALL WRONG!!!
Shoot them on the spot they have no uman write they are anymals.............
Make them walk the plank!
kill em all, done hearing about pirates.
Seems to me the U.S could fix this situation in no time
This is a terrible thing, but the idiots shouldn't have been there in the first place.
Why do so many of you guys say things like that? "They shouldn't have been there in the first place.??" What a cowardly thing to say. You're obviously one who runs and hides when you feel threatened rather than stand your ground. It's international waters, you should be able to go wherever you want. Having the position that because bad things happen over there, just let it continue and steer clear next time is the only idiotic thing I see here.
The attack radius of Somalian pirates has grown to more than a thousand miles offshore. Where exactly did you expect them to go?
Seems to me that the only idiot is the one who writes the people on the yacth were idiots.
I heard that the hostages were told to stay with their group and instead went their own way. Yes its international waters, but when you're told that it's probably a good idea to stick together because of reported pirates but leave anyways, I'd say there's some blame on their side. It's like walking into a part of town that has high criminal activity, if you're not ready to walk into it then don't.
They were 400 miles offshore. The pirates operate at distances exceeding 1300 nautical miles. It's a crap shoot on whether or not you'll be attacked. Those distances are staggering. Until the pirates are stopped, they'll only continue expanding their attack radius!
Say look as seafaring people throughout the world we all have a an inherent right too traverses ALL oceans and seas with out being intimated or threatened by pirates of any nation or dysfunctional country.
They may have been in a situation where the threat was high but they are the victims not the perpetrators of this incident they are the VICTIMS!
Pleases do not be so heard hearted to blame these peace loving people.
Will Young. They are the victims. But they didn't have to be. They chose to be. They are like the Americans near the Iranian border. Of all the places in the world to hike, that place would be on the bottom of my list.
There is plenty of ocean out there and these four individuals if given a second chance, would sail elsewhere for their loved ones. Having said all that, they are in Heaven and there isn't a more wonderful place. I hope their murders will cause a more serious military offensive approach toward ending the existence of pirates and their support system.
Sorry, but you should not have been sailing there in the first place.
Guess they died pursuing their religious evangelical beliefs. Muslims really resent this kind of intrusion.
That's stupid to say because the pirates have the run of an entire ocean. Imagine saying that you shouldn't be sailing in the North Atlantic. I do wish that the international community would strap on some resolve and just blockade Somali ports.
Sorry but you shouldn't be making idiotic comments in the first place. Who the heck gives scrubby pirates the right to kill innocent people?
@NoWay. The pirates are not Muslims...Islam does not condone stealing. Also, I am not sure that sailing a yacht is the same thing as pursuing evangelical, Christian beliefs. Maybe they were just sailing a yacht.
Don't people read the news? Pirates have been active there for years. These people were asking for trouble.
Sounds like these pirates want to meet up with a sniper's .50 caliber round
Sounds like a good plan to me Ryan !!!
It is time to change the rules and play their game eye for an eye.
Even better, how about eliminating 10 bad eyes for one good eye.
Exponential eye for an eye works for me
Truthfully, the international community has waited long enough!
The americans are dead, shortly to be followed by the somali pirates.
Why hasn't the navy blown the vessel out of the water?
Right. But why the h*** didn't they have permission to fire instead of just negotiating? The military used to go in and capture hostage; now they negotiate? What the h*** were they offering for 4 American lives?
This administration's foreign policy is making a laughing stock out of the U.S. My brother-in-;law's a special forces guy, and he says the rules of engagement are ridiculous.
Obama didn't even say anything Nothing today. What is the matter with him? And Clinton just said the "international community" should do something.
Yes, I'm disgusted. We have the best military in the world, and the damn government won;'t let them rescue Americans.
(and I'm not just blaming the present administration, although it's horrible. Truth is, we haven't fought a war like we should for decads.And islamic terrorism grows and grows.)
This just makes me so sad. Prayers to the families.......
Ya, well its time to show those Somalians Degenerate- Low Life Pirates over there, just what a severe Ass kickin really is, let em' have it – break out the War Planes and Naval Destroyers and let the missles fly and the bombs drop !! Demolish all of Somalia and Kill / murder ever single low life Pirate found !!!
Jetranger, it is sad innocent people are killed. Demolishing somalia is not a solution to the piracy problem. This is the first time i ever heard pirates killed hostages in somalia. As news says negotiations for release were under way and "american hero" soldiers stormed like last time 2009 sadly the pirates reacted swiftly and killed the four hostages... I think it was not wise...American heroes should wait and see as these thugs are only after ransom.
Mohamed. Only after ransom, you say.
The United States of America does NOT pay ransoms! So there is no sense in talking to a bunch of Islamic/Muslim sc/mbags, (whose religion's vast majority of followers are decent but cowards), about getting ransom money.
The words you wrote are minimizing, a strategy used by someone who is against the United States. Write some more negative untrue garbage. You have the name for it.
So, wasn't there a US Navy war ship following it?
Go get them, hold a trial at sea, and don't bring them back to land.
As expressed in another comment... the Navy now has the duty of bringing down the pirates who hijacked the yaht and killed the Americans. Or are we just content in letting them get away?
This blog – This Just In – will no longer be updated. Looking for the freshest news from CNN? Go to our ever-popular CNN.com homepage on your desktop or your mobile device, and join the party at @cnnbrk, the world's most-followed account for news.