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Somali Pirates May Face US Trial for Americans' Deaths

Somali pirates (file photo)

The U.S. military says 15 Somali pirates may be sent to the U.S. for trial for their role in the kidnapping and killing of four Americans.

Defense Department spokesman Colonel David Lapan told VOA Wednesday that a U.S. trial is "one option" facing the suspects.

The U.S. military says it captured the 15 pirates on the Indian Ocean Tuesday, during an operation to rescue four Americans aboard a hijacked yacht.

Vice Admiral Mark Fox said pirates aboard the yacht fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. warship, then shot and killed the hostages.

A U.S. special forces team seized the hijacked vessel and the suspects. Officials say the team also killed two pirates and found two others on board already dead.

Last week, a U.S. court sentenced a Somali pirate to nearly 34 years in prison for his role in the hijacking of an American cargo ship.

The Somali man, Abduwali Abdiqadir Muse, pleaded guilty last year to hijacking the U.S.-flaggedMaersk Alabama near Somalia in 2009.

Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the past few years, and taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom money. The European Union's anti-piracy task force says the pirates are currently holding at least 32 vessels and nearly 700 hostages.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.