Last month, four Americans on a sailboat were hijacked by a group of Somali pirates, and killed soon after. It is one thing when Americans hear about seamen being captured by gangs of Somali pirates in far-off waters, and quite another, when they hear about their own countrymen being brutally murdered by these thugs. Maritime attorneys wonder – could the tragic deaths of the four Americans change the face of the international war on piracy? Suddenly, victims of piracy are not just foreign seamen on cargo ships in distant waters. The victims here included a retired couple from California, who had put in their savings for a trip around the globe. The other members of the group were two of the couple's friends from Seattle. According to updates that one of the victims was posting on a website, the trip was going exceptionally well, and there was much to look forward to. That is until they unexpectedly ran into the pirates. Soon after, they were shot and killed. It's quite rare to hear of the cold-blooded murder of a hostage by a pirate. To have four such murders is quite unprecedented. Maritime lawyers have been speculating about whether this horrific crime against Americans will mark a game changer in the war against piracy. It is reasonable to expect that there will be some kind of retaliation, but it's hard at this point to know how this will change future action against pirates. The New York Times is speculating on whether US authorities will use local allies in Somalia to bring some semblance of law and order in that land. Federal authorities may also use American Special Forces to hunt down pirates in Somalia.
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