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August 16, 2009

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Crew sails home captive pirates

THE crews of two Egyptian fishing vessels that overpowered pirates off the Somali coast are sailing back home with eight captive pirates on board, the owner of one of the boats said yesterday.

Mohammad Nasr said the 33 fishermen turned down the Egyptian government's offer to fly them back on Friday from Yemen, saying that sailing back would be a symbol of their courage and pride.

He said the pirates are locked in a room on board the boats and there are plans for them to be tried in Egyptian courts.

Nasr, who was in telephone contact with his crew through the ordeal, said the boats were seized by pirates four months ago on their way to fish near Yemen.

According to a Yemeni businessman who hired the boats, Ahmed Samara and Momtaz 1, the fishermen on both vessels coordinated their attack and some of the pirates even cooperated with them, making it easier for the other gunmen to be overpowered.

The struggle took place off the coastal town of Las Qorey along the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways.

"The crew on both boats started their operations at one time. They were coordinating among themselves," said Mohamed Alnahdi of the company which had hired the fishing boats.

He said he spent more than a month in Bossaso, a Somali town, trying to negotiate the fishermen's release.


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