Navy frees pirates' hostages

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British sailors have freed five hostages who were held captive by Somali pirates for three months.

A naval boarding party from HMS Cornwall discovered the Yemeni hostages after searching the pirates' sailing boat in the Indian Ocean, the Ministry of Defence said.

The boarding crew also found and destroyed weapons including rocket propelled grenades, and three skiffs used to launch attacks.

HMS Cornwall's commanding officer, Commander David Wilkinson, said: "Our presence in the area has had a hugely significant effect on the lives of five Yemeni fishermen, who have been freed from over three months of pirate captivity and can now return to their families.

"In addition we have restored a merchant vessel to legitimate use on the high seas and my highly trained team has conducted a very slick boarding operation which has ensured that this pirate vessel is no longer able to operate."

Piracy in the busy shipping lanes off Somalia has flourished since its government collapsed in 1991. The piracy industry has evolved into a multimillion dollar business with almost daily attacks.

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