MOMBASA (Kenya): Somali pirates fired grenades and automatic weapons at an American freighter loaded with food aid but the ship managed to escape the attack and was heading to Kenya on Wednesday under U.S. Navy escort, said officials.
“This attack was the first against our prime target,” pirate commander Abdi Garad told AFP of the attack on the Liberty Sun late on Tuesday. “We intended to destroy this American-flagged ship and the crew on board but unfortunately they narrowly escaped us. The aim of this attack was totally different. We were not after a ransom. We also assigned a team with special equipment to chase and destroy any ship flying the American flag in retaliation for the brutal killing of our friends.” The Liberty Sun’s American crew was not injured in the latest attack but the vessel sustained some damage, owner Liberty Maritime Corp. said. The ship, with a crew of 20 American mariners, was carrying humanitarian aid to Mombasa. Despite President Barack Obama’s vow to halt their banditry, and the deaths of five pirates in recent French and U.S. hostage rescue missions, brigands seized four vessels and over 75 hostages off the Horn of Africa since Sunday’s dramatic rescue of an American captain.
The attack foiled the reunion between the rescued captain and the 19-man crew he had saved with his heroism. Captain Richard Phillips was planning to meet his crew in the Kenyan port of Mombasa and fly home with them. But Mr. Phillips was on the USS Bainbridge, the destroyer diverted to escort the Liberty Sun after it evaded attack. Mr. Phillips had offered himself up as a hostage to save his men.