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NAIROBI, Kenya — Four Americans taken hostage by Somali pirates off East Africa were shot and killed by their captors Monday, the U.S. military said, the first time that sea bandits have killed U.S. hostages.

Navy forces tried to provide lifesaving care but the Americans died of their wounds.

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The Quest was the home of Jean and Scott Adam, a couple from California who had been sailing around the world since December 2004. The two other Americans on board were Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, both of Seattle, Washington.

The U.S. Central Command said negotiations had been under way to try to win their release.

Gunshots were heard Monday but when U.S. forces reached the yacht, they found that all four hostages had been shot, the U.S. military said.

“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander.

Two pirates died during the ensuing confrontation, and 13 were captured and detained. The remains of two other pirates who were already dead also were found. In total the U.S. said that 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking of the Quest.

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