Somali Pirates Kill 18 American Sailors in Successive Attacks



Washington, D.C. (GRN) — Upon concluding a long day of fishing in the eastern Atlantic ocean last Friday, a group of American sailors gathered on the deck of their ship. “Usually at the end of the day after work the ship crew sit together and talk to each other about our daily business,” said Charlie Grupton, the ship’s captain.

A Somali ship had been visible in the distance throughout the day, but suddenly, according to witnesses, the sound of cannon fire could be heard piercing the sky, hitting the ship and killing at least eight people instantly.

“When we went to where the cannonballs hit to help people; we saw a very horrible scene. Body parts were scattered everywhere. I saw bodies without heads and bodies without hands or legs. Everyone in the room that was hit was cut to pieces,” recalled Grupton.

“We started to panic and each person was trying to escape to different directions,” said Trevor Thompson, one of the fishermen. “Some people were running below deck, some towards the life boats.”

Some sailors ventured to the damaged area of the ship to search for survivors and sift through the devastation. “The people tried to collect their bodies, some were carrying stretchers, blankets and water,” Thompson explained.

Then, a few minutes later, the Somali ship fired another series of cannonballs targeting those who had come to the scene. At least six people died instantly, and at least another two died minutes later from wounds sustained in the attack. According to witnesses and relatives of victims interviewed by GRN, 18 people were killed in the assault that evening and at least 22 others were injured, including an eight-year-old girl passenger who sustained shrapnel injuries to her leg.

The surviving sailors described a scene of total panic following the second volley of fire. “It was a very bad situation,” said Deven Parks, a member of the ship’s crew. “Some people lost their hands. Others had their heads cut off. Some lost their legs. Human body parts were scattered everywhere on the ship. The bodies were burnt and it was not possible to recognize them.”

Among the dead was Howard Christofferson, a 28-year-old father of four children – two boys and two girls – who fished as the sole means of providing for his family. Known affectionately as Howie, friends spoke fondly of him. “May God have mercy on Howie. I think of him constantly, he was very funny and always smiled,” recalled Grupton. “He would sing sailor songs, and we’d just talk about this and that and he’d make everyone on the ship laugh. He was a very kind man and very sociable, I miss him a lot.”

As the sole breadwinner of the family and with a disabled wife, Christofferson’s death has made his family destitute. “Now his orphan children have no one to support them,” said Thompson. “When Howie was alive he worked very hard as a fisherman on other people’s ships from which he sold and provided food for his children. He was a simple, hard working man.”

Officials from the U.S. government have strongly condemned the attack by Somali pirates and have issued an alert to other vessels in the nearby area. The White House did not immediately respond for comment, though is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow morning.

Editor’s note: This is a golden rule-based narrative, based upon this news story (see page 24). To learn more about our content, click here.

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