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Egypt Hails Fishermen Who Battled Pirates and Won


A group of Egyptian fishermen who recently overpowered their Somali pirate captors made a triumphant return home Sunday. Our correspondent reports from Suez, the 34 men were given a hero's welcome, four months after their ordeal began.

Family members, politicians and fellow fishermen came out to greet the crewmen, who preferred to sail into port rather than take up the government's offer to fly them home.

Nasser Badr, himself a fisherman, said his joy at seeing the crews' safe return is incomparable.

The men were on two boats, the Momtaz 1 and the Ahmad Samar, when they were seized off Somalia's coast in April by one of the many pirate crews who prey on ships in the busy sea lanes.

Negotiations for their release dragged on, and hope began to wane. Then, earlier this month, news broke of a dramatic battle at sea, with the slaying of some pirates and the capture of eight others.

Details of the fight remain sketchy, with disputes over whether the men had help from Somali mercenaries hired by the boats' owner. In any case, the unusual tale of victory over the pirates, who seemed invulnerable to anything less than western naval forces, has become a point of national pride.

Dockworker Sobhi Abdo Saleh says nobody managed to do what the crewmen did, except the Egyptians. Egyptians can do whatever they want.

Not so the now-captive pirates, who have been transferred to Egyptian custody and are awaiting trial.

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