Standoff with Somali pirates continues with American captain still a hostage

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The Somali pirates seized an American cargo ship a few days ago and while the rest of the crew escaped and took control of the ship, the captain, is still being held prisoner in a small lifeboat. As FBI hostage negotiators rush to the scene off the Somali coast and U.S. Navy destroyer attempts communications with the pirates, more ships are moving into the area. The captain attempted an escape, but the bandits were able to re-capture him before he could reach the Navy vessel. For the latest we turn to the BBC's Africa Editor Mary Harper. We are also joined by Wangari Mathai, the Nobel Prize winning peace activist who can provide an African perspective on the pirates' actions.

Contributor's Note :

When Somali pirates seized a giant Saudi oil tanker, the Sirius Star, last November, I managed to get a hold of a phone number to call them. But every time I rang them, they would put the phone down as soon as I said I was from the BBC. I became so obsessed with calling them that I programmed their number into my mobile phone so that I could ring them anytime, from anywhere. My twelve year old daughter had seen me repeatedly ringing the pirates, and one day, when we were stuck in a long traffic jam, she asked if she could try. I refused, but she eventually wore me down, and I gave her the phone. She pressed P for Pirates and...the phone rang, and a bizarre conversation ensued between her and a pirate. This opened a crucial door, and the next day I was able to get a real scoop by interviewing not only the pirate, but the captain of the ship who had been taken hostage. All thanks to my daughter, who insisted on dialing P for pirates. — Mary Harper, BBC's Africa Editor

Here is the AP's report on the current status of the hostage situation: