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Egyptian fisherman fought pirates with Somali help
Published in Daily News Egypt on 19 - 08 - 2009

CAIRO: The owner of one of two kidnapped Egyptian fishing vessels used Somali militia men and a portion of the demanded ransom to rescue the crews from pirates, said the owner of the second boat Tuesday.
Hassan Khalil, the owner of fishing vessel Momtaz 1, persuaded the pirates to let him on his boat after giving a down payment of $200,000 to the pirates leaders, said Mohamed Nasr, who owns the other vessel and was in contact with his colleague.
Khalil then signaled to the captive fishermen to distract the pirates while hired Somali gunmen clambered aboard and engaged the pirates, Nasr said. They succeeded in killing two of the pirates and taking eight others hostage.
The fisherman then sailed for Egypt with their captives so that they could be tried by an Egyptian court. They are expected to arrive Saturday.
Khalil, who returned by plane, was greeted at the Cairo International Airport by dozens of reporters and cheering family and friends.
We lived terrible moments, Khalil told reporters at the airport. We expected to die many times when gunfire was exchanged with the pirates.
The fishermen were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Somalia four months ago who initially demanded millions of dollars to free the captives.
They eventually lowered their ransom demand to $800,000 but allowed Khalil to board his boat for a quarter of that sum.
Ambassador Mustafa Al-Guindy from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told reporters Tuesday that his government will study the case and decide on how to charge the pirates.
The struggle took place off the coastal Somali town of Las Qorey along the Gulf of Aden, one of the world s busiest waterways.
In April, an American crew fought off Somali pirates until the crew s captain offered himself as a hostage in a bid to save their lives. He was held hostage in a lifeboat for five days and was freed after US Navy snipers killed three of his captors.
Pirate attacks worldwide more than doubled in the first half of 2009 amid a surge in the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Somalia, which together accounted for 130 of the cases, according to an international maritime watchdog.
International patrols, including by US, European, Chinese, Russian and Indian ships, have failed to halt the pirate attacks.


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