As a Spanish warship looked on, a $ 3.3 million ransoms was delivered by boat and Somali pirates freed a Spanish trawler and its 36 crewmembers.
Spain's prime minister did little to deny paying off the hijackers - one reason the lucrative attacks are on the rise.
"The government did what it had to do," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told a news conference yesterday in Madrid.
"The important thing is that the sailors will be back with us. The first obligation of a country, of the government of a state, is to save the lives of its countrymen."
Somali pirates attacked two more ships on Monday and still hold about a dozen ships with more than 200 crew, including a British couple that were taken from their 12-meter sailboat last month.
Ali Gab, a self-described pirate, told The Associated Press the hijackers of the Spanish tuna boat Alakrana were paid $ 3.3 million in ransom, delivered by boat as sailors aboard a nearby warship watched.
After being freed, the trawler steamed away under the protection of two Spanish warships. All crewmembers were reported to be in good health after more than six weeks in captivity.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a news conference the Alakrana was headed for the Seychelles, where US surveillance drones and several warships belonging to a multinational anti-piracy force are based.