[B]US cargo ship evades Somali pirate attack [/B]
MOMBASA, Kenya — Defiant Somali pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at another U.S. cargo ship on Tuesday but failed to hijack it, officials said, just days after Navy SEALs rescued an American hostage after an earlier unsuccessful hijacking.
The brazen midday attack on the Liberty Sun in international waters off the African coast is further evidence that Somali pirates were back to business as usual. Pirates have seized four other ships with 60 hostages since sharpshooters killed three gunmen holding American freighter captain Richard Phillips.
“No one can deter us,” one bandit boasted.
The Liberty Sun’s American crew was safe after pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at the vessel, its owner, Liberty Maritime Corp. said in a statement Tuesday night. There were no injuries but the ship sustained unspecified damage, the Lake Success, N.Y.-based company said.
A U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, responded to the attack but the pirates had departed by the time it arrived some six hours later, Navy Capt. Jack Hanzlik said.
The Bainbridge is the same destroyer from which the snipers killed the three pirates holding Phillips captive aboard a drifting lifeboat for five days. The Bainbridge was carrying Phillips to Kenya when it was called to respond to the attack on the Liberty Sun.
The Liberty Sun, with its crew of about 20 Americans, was carrying humanitarian aid to Mombasa, Kenya, Hanzlik said. It continued on its way to Kenya after the attack under Navy escort, the company said.
The brigands are grabbing more ships and hostages to show they would not be intimidated by President Barack Obama’s pledge to confront the high-seas bandits, according to a pirate based in the Somali coastal town of Harardhere.
“Our latest hijackings are meant to show that no one can deter us from protecting our waters from the enemy because we believe in dying for our land,” Omar Dahir Idle told The Associated Press by telephone. “Our guns do not fire water. I am sure we will avenge.”