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Morning Brief: Pirate hostage situation escalates

Top Story The battle between pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the U.S. military escalated, with all parties sending in additional boats. Hostage Capt. Richard Phillips attempted to escape from the Somali pirates who had briefly overtaken the Maersk Alabama container ship he commanded, only to be recaptured when he attempted to swim away. ...

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Top Story

The battle between pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the U.S. military escalated, with all parties sending in additional boats. Hostage Capt. Richard Phillips attempted to escape from the Somali pirates who had briefly overtaken the Maersk Alabama container ship he commanded, only to be recaptured when he attempted to swim away. The pirates are attempting to return to shore with Phillips in a small lifeboat. Hostage negotiators from the FBI are said to be arriving soon, as are additional warcraft, promised by Gen. David Petraeus.  

Europe
 

On Good Friday, Italy held a state funeral for the victims of the earthquake in L’Aquila.

Turkmenistan accused Russia of purposefully causing a blast on the main gas pipeline between the two countries.

European stocks climbed for the fifth straight week, on speculation that the worst of the credit crisis is over.

Middle East

Just after United States announced direct talks with Iran over its nuclear capability, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared progress in the country’s uranium-enrichment program.

A suicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq, killed seven, including five U.S. soldiers.

U.S. President Barack Obama asked for $83.4 billion additional dollars to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Americas

Mexico City officials turned off water pipes, leaving five million residents without water for 36 hours, due to a shortage.

The CIA announced the closure of its overseas “black site” prisons, where enemy combatants were allegedly tortured.

An early-season tornado flattened a small town in Arkansas, killing at least three.

Asia

Protesters in Thailand blocked the entrance to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic summit.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso formally unveiled the country’s $150 billion stimulus program, worth around 3 percent of its gross domestic product.

Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo seized control of the country, banishing the judiciary and revoking the constitution.

Africa

Partisans of Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, are accused of torturing their rivals to gain political amnesty.  

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won a third term, in an election marred by violence and boycotts.

AFP PHOTO/KHALED FAZAA  

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