April 12, 2009 / 8:42 PM / in 10 years

US acted after pirates aimed at ship captain

WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama gave authority to kill the Somali pirates holding U.S. cargo ship captain Richard Phillips, and a commander acted when he concluded the pirates were about to kill the hostage, a U.S. Navy official said on Sunday.

“They were pointing the AK-47s at the captain,” Vice Adm. William Gortney, head of the U.S. Naval Central Command, said in a Pentagon briefing from Bahrain.

Gortney also said Washington had rejected negotiations with the pirates. “The United States government policy is to not negotiate,” he said.

Reporting by Randall Mikkelsen; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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