Hostages attack pirates, end 4-month trial
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Using machetes and guns, the men fought a desperate battle to take control of two boats off the Somali coast. But this time, it wasn’t pirates who launched the attack - it was Egyptian fishermen who had been held hostage for four months and who killed two brigands and took others captive as they regained control of their vessels.
Yesterday, the roughly three dozen newly liberated fishermen sailed toward home. One pirate was in custody in Somalia after local fishermen found him near shore with machete wounds, police said.
Another pirate, who said he escaped during the fight Thursday, described the struggle in a telephone interview.
“They attacked us with machetes and other tools, seized some of our guns, and then fought us,’’ said the pirate who identified himself only by his nom de guerre, Miraa. “I could see two dead bodies of my colleagues lying on the ship. I do not know the fate of the nine others.’’
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, said Mohamed Alnahdi, the executive manager of Mashrq Marine Product, which had hired the fishing boats.
“The crew on both boats started their operations at one time. They were coordinating among themselves,’’ he said in a telephone interview from Bossaso, a town where he spent more than a month trying to negotiate the fishermen’s release.
Alnahdi, whose company is based in Yemen, said the ransom talks deadlocked Thursday, with him offering $200,000, but the pirates demanding $1.5 million.
The Ahmed Samara and Momtaz 1 fishing boats sailed yesterday for Yemen, where the crews were to hand over the captured pirates. The crew will then fly home to Egypt, said Mohammad Nasr, owner of the Ahmed Samara.
The struggle took place off the coastal town of Las Qorey along the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest waterways. Pirate attacks worldwide more than doubled in the first half of 2009 amid a surge in the gulf and along the east coast of Somalia.