March 10, 2011 / 3:36 PM / 8 years ago

U.S. charges pirates who killed two couples on yacht

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A grand jury in Virginia has indicted 13 Somalis and one Yemeni for pirating a yacht with two American couples aboard who were later killed off the coast of Somalia, according to court papers unsealed on Thursday.

They were charged with piracy, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and the use of firearms during a crime, according to the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The group seized the yacht last month and were negotiating with the U.S. military to release the couples when a pirate fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett.

Gunfire then broke out inside the pirated vessel, prompting the U.S. military to send American special forces to board the vessel. The U.S. military has said the pirates shot the hostages before U.S. troops boarded the yacht.

U.S. troops killed two pirates as they boarded the boat. Another two pirates were found dead when the U.S. special forces arrived but they were not killed by U.S. forces, the military has said.

The Americans killed last month were Jean and Scott Adam, from California, and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle from Seattle.

Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Jackie Frank

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