WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Over the weekend President Barack Obama authorized the use of force against Somali pirates who killed four U.S. citizens in the Indian Ocean, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
Obama said force could be used “in the case of an imminent threat to those hostages,” Carney said.
Somali pirates had boarded the sailing vessel S/V Quest and held four American citizens hostage. U.S. forces were negotiating with the pirates when they were fired upon. U.S. forces returned fire and when they reached the boat, all four hostages had been shot, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
“Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds,” U.S. Central Command said.
Carney said Obama was notified about the death of the four Americans at 4:42 a.m. EST by John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. “We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, Centcom’s commander.
This is at least the second hostage situation Obama has dealt with since being president. In April 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL snipers killed three pirates to end a five-day hostage standoff involving an American-flagged cargo ship.
-By Jared A. Favole, Dow Jones Newswires