Indictment comes as family's rescue is foiled

Fourteen pirates have been charged with piracy, kidnapping and weapons possession by an American court after the gun battle that left four sailors dead.

Thirteen Somalis and one Yemeni appeared in court in Norfolk, Virginia, accused of murdering Scott and Jean Adam, Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle on board the Adams’ Davidson 58 pilot house cutter, Quest, on February 22.

The US military captured the 14 men after hearing gunfire aboard Quest and boarding the yacht, but the four crew were already dead.

The indictment accused ‘at least three of the defendants on board the Quest‘ of intentionally shooting and killing their hostages without provocation and revealed that the pirates possessed a grenade launcher, ammunition and several assault rifles, while additional weapons were thrown overboard.

The defendants face mandatory sentences of life imprisonment if convicted of the piracy charges and up to life on the conspiracy to kidnap and firearms charges.

The court appearance comes as pirates foiled an attempt by Somali government troops to rescue seven Danish sailors, including three children, who were kidnapped on February 24.

Jan Quist and Birgit Marie Johansen are believed to be unharmed, as are their children, Rune, 17, Hjalte, 15, and Naja, 13, and two other crew members.

The military intervention came in the lawless Puntland province near Bandar Beyla where the hostages are being held and is believed to have resulted in at least nine deaths.

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