Four hostages on board a yacht hijacked by pirates last week were killed by their captors, U.S. Central Command said in a statement obtained by CNN Tuesday.
The vessel, named the Quest, was being shadowed by the military after being captured by pirates off the coast of Oman on Friday, CNN reported. Officials had said earlier Tuesday it was less than two days from the Somali coast.
Americans Jean and Scott Adam — the owners of the ship — and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, had been traveling with yachts participating in the Blue Water Rally since their departure from Phuket, Thailand, rally organizers said Sunday in a statement on the event's website.
As negotiations were ongoing with the pirates for the hostages' release, gunfire was heard at about 1 a.m. ET Tuesday, U.S. Central Command said.
"As (U.S. forces) responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors," the statement said. "Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds."
The pirates engaged the U.S. forces on board, officials told CNN. Two pirates were killed in the skirmish and 13 were captured and detained. Two others were already in U.S. forces custody, the statement said, and the remains of two pirates were found on board. "In total, it is believed 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking" of the vessel, Central Command said.