Somali pirates holding a US captain hostage warned on Saturday that using force to free him would end in "disaster," as they prepared to move him following a deadly French raid on a separate boat.
After French commandos stormed a yacht held by other pirates in a raid that left one hostage and two gunmen dead, pirate commander Abdi Garad told AFP the American captive would be moved from the lifeboat where he was being held.
Only four pirates have been guarding Captain Richard Phillips on the lifeboat, and transferring him to a larger ship could give them better defences as the US military seeks to free him.
"There are not any developments still on the standoff with the American officials," Garad said by phone from the northern Somali pirate lair of Eyl.
"We are planning to transfer the hostage on to one of the ships our friends are holding around Garacad area so that we can wait," he added, referring to an area along Somalia's coast, though he did not specify which ship.
US Navy forces have been pouring into the region amid the standoff over the American, who was captain of a Danish-operated container ship carrying international aid that pirates tried to take this week.