British navy frees Yemeni fishermen from pirates

16th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The British navy freed five Yemeni fishermen held hostage for three months on their boat, but also had to release the Somali pirates who seized their dhow, officials in London said Wednesday.

The crew of British warship HMS Cornwall discovered the fishermen after carrying out a search of their dhow last Thursday in international waters, the Ministry of Defence said.

The fishermen were released and have travelled back to Yemen on their boat, said a ministry statement.

The navy also found 17 pirates and an arsenal of weapons on board the dhow which was being used as a "mother ship" to launch attacks.

But the Royal Navy were forced to take the captors back to Somalia as it was felt there was not enough evidence to charge them, a ministry spokesman added.

The Royal Navy also found and destroyed rocket-propelled grenades, three skiffs and boarding ladders, according to the ministry.

HMS Cornwall was alerted by a South Korean merchant vessel which spotted the dhow acting suspiciously.

HMS Cornwall was working as part of the counter-piracy mission of the Combined Maritime Forces, an international armada of some three dozen ships which aims to boost security at sea.

Despite international efforts to stop them, Somali pirates have continued to attack foreign ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

© 2011 AFP

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