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Maritime officials seek more authority to confront pirates

As attacks continue, experts consider whether deadly force would be an effective deterrent.

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Pirates seized another boat off the coast of Somalia Saturday, as negotiations continued for the release of the Capt. Richard Phillips, who is being held hostage by four pirates in a lifeboat flanked by US warships off the coast of Somalia.

The newly-seized boat, an Italian tugboat with a crew of 16, was towing two barges westbound through the Gulf of Aiden when it was attacked Saturday morning, according to the European Union's International Maritime Center. The crew is believed to be safe but other ships have been warned to stay away from the area.

French forces are also preparing to bring three Somali pirates back to France to face criminal charges. They were captured on Friday after French Special Forces attacked a yacht hijacked seven days earlier. It was carrying two couples and a child. One of the hostages and two of the pirates were killed in the raid.

With the media suddenly shining a sharp spotlight on the increase in piracy off the coast of Somalia, maritime experts are calling for more clearly delineated international authority to stop and board suspect boats, as well as the authority to use armed force to engage potential attackers who might resist inspection.

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