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Somali Situation: Reinforcements on the Way

Overnight, Captain Richard Phillips attempted an escape from the lifeboat and his four Somali pirate captors by diving into the water. He was quickly recaptured.

Was this another heroic act by a man whose friends and family described as "rough and tumble," and "very tough and take charge," or an attempt by Phillips to defuse a rapidly escalating situation? Consider that he may be the only one in direct contact with the pirates and probably knows more of their intentions. This is at the time when the U.S.S. Bainbridge is being joined by another American warship, the Halyburton (along with its two helicopters). This is the escalation in my opinion, not the involvement of a negotiating team or the possible future presence of a HRT.

"The pirates have summoned assistance -- skiffs and motherships are heading towards the area from the coast," a Nairobi-based diplomat, who spoke on condition on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, told the Associated Press. "We knew they were gathering yesterday."

A Somali pirate identified as Mohamed Samaw in the pirate stronghold in central Eyl, told the AP that among the ships heading to their colleagues' rescue was a Taiwanese fishing vessel seized Monday and the German cargo ship Hansa Stavanger, seized earlier this month.

"They had asked us for reinforcement and we have already sent a good number of well-equipped colleagues, who were holding a German cargo ship," said another pirate who asked that only his first name, Badow, be used to protect him from reprisals.

"We are not intending to harm the captain, so that we hope our colleagues would not be harmed as long as they hold him," Badow said.

As the density of vessels and armed adversaries increases in the area, does not the possibility of an outbreak of shooting also increase? As for negotiating with the Somali pirates, what inducement other than saving their own lives can there be? The Alabama has already left the area. This is not a land-based hostage situation where an HRT storms a building or camp to rescue the hostage. This is in the open waters with direct line-of-sight for both sides. So, what should we expect? That the pirates will simply "stand down?"

We are not there, while Captain Phillips in literally in the middle of it. So this entry is only observing and commenting on reports as they occur.

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