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Egyptian crews overpower Somali pirates, kill 2.

MOGADISHU: The crew of two Egyptian fishing vessels wielding machetes and tools attacked Somali pirates who had held them hostage for four months, killing at least two of them, according to a pirate and businessman Friday.

The Egyptian crew overpowered the pirates, seizing some of their guns before sailing away from Somalia's coast, said Miraa, who was one of the pirates on board the fishing vessels.

Miraa, who gave only his nom de guerre, said the fight took place near the northern Somalia coastal town of Las Qorey. The town is off the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways where Somali pirates carry out most of their attacks.

Said Jama Hussein, a businessman in the small town of Las Qorey, said fishermen told him the Egyptian ships left Thursday. He said the crew, who number up to 24, apparently took some of the pirates hostage.

Miraa said "they attacked us with machetes and other tools, seized some of our guns and then fought with us.

"I could see two dead bodies of my colleagues lying on the ship," Miraa told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I do not know the fate of the nine others."

The Egyptian foreign ministry said on Friday that the group of 34 Egyptian fishermen who escaped the clutches of Somali pirates are safe and well and on their way to Yemen, "They are safe and well and two hours off the coast of Yemen," deputy minister for consular affairs Ahmad Rizk said.

"Our embassy in Sanaa, consulate in Aden and embassy in Djibouti are closely monitoring their progress," he said, adding that Egypt stood ready to fly the fishermen home if asked.

The Egyptians, who are holding four of the pirates, managed to escape following "successful Egyptian contacts with Somali tribes, who helped ... end their capture," Rizk said, without giving details.

The governor of Somalia's breakaway Puntland region, Muse Gele Yusuf, said on Thursday that police reports suggested "the two Egyptian fishing boats that pirates were holding off Lasqorey coast managed to escape after overpowering the pirates."

A pirate in Lasqorey village, Ali Guled, said he had heard reports of some pirates killed in fighting with the fishermen.

Rizk hinted that there might have been outside involvement in the men's escape but refused to be drawn on the reports of deaths among the pirates.

"I can't comment on that. The reports are still fluid," he said.

The most prominent case of a hijacked crew fighting back pirates was in April when an American crew fought their Somali captors until their crew's captain offered himself as a hostage in a bid to save their lives.

The captain was later released after US navy snipers shot his captors and captured one of them.

Somali pirates seized the two Egyptian vessels in mid-April and at the time some Egyptian officials suggested the ships may have been targeted for illegally fishing off Somalia's coast.

Somalia's coast is rich with fish including red snapper, barracuda and tuna and rampant illegal fishing triggered piracy attacks years ago with the pirates saying they were seeking to protect the livelihoods of local fishermen.

Somali pirates hold less than 10 vessels. --Agencies

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Aug 14, 2009
Words:544
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