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Yemeni navy frees boat, crew captured by pirates

world Updated: May 29, 2010 12:17 IST
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The Yemeni navy has arrested 13 Somali pirates and liberated a fishing boat and its crew four days after they were seized near the island of Socotra, the defence ministry announced today.

The fishing boat's nine crew members were reported to be "safe and sound" after being freed by Yemeni marines operating in cooperation with international forces in the Arabian Sea, naval chief Rouis Abdullah Majur said.

The interior ministry website first reported the act of piracy on Friday, without specifying when it had taken place. The defence ministry report said the boat and crew had remained captive for four days.

Yemeni forces recovered weapons including machine guns and two RPG launchers, the defence ministry newspaper's website cited Majur as saying.

It said the rescue operation took place off Yemen's Al-Mahrah province, which borders Oman, and added that the captured Somalis would face trial in Yemen. The vessel was attacked off Socotra at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden as it sailed to Al-Mukalla port.

Heavily armed pirates using speed boats operate in the Gulf of Aden where they prey on ships, sometimes holding them for weeks before releasing them for large ransoms paid by governments or ship-owners.On May 18, a Yemeni court sentenced six Somali pirates to death and jailed six others for 10 years each for seizing a Yemeni oil tanker and killing two cabin crew in April 2009.