U.S. Navy snipers opened fire and killed three pirates holding an American captain at gunpoint, delivering the skipper unharmed and ending a five-day high-seas hostage drama on Easter Sunday.
Capt. Richard Phillips was in "imminent danger" of being killed before snipers shot the pirates in an operation authorized by President Barack Obama, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said.
He said the pirates were armed with AK-47s and small-caliber pistols and were pointing the rifles at the captain when the commander of the nearby USS Bainbridge gave the order to open fire.
Gortney, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the White House had given "very clear guidance and authority" to take action if Phillips' life was in danger.