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Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Saturday, 9 August 2008 12:57 UK

Somali pirates free two Germans

A German hostage meets Puntland's security minister
Puntland officials apologised for what had happened

Two Germans kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Somalia and held captive for five weeks have been released.

The couple, named only as 63-year-old Jurgen K and his companion, 51-year-old Sabine M, were sailing through the Gulf of Aden when they were seized.

A ransom worth $1m (600,000 euros; 500,000) was reportedly paid to secure their release.

Speaking to reporters, the president of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland apologised for their experience.

Yacht ransacked

Adde Muse vowed that if the Puntland authorities captured the pirates behind the kidnap they would be jailed or executed.

"We are really sorry for what happened," Mr Muse said during in Bosasso.

"We put a lot of effort towards their release and I wish to thank everyone who helped."

The couple - who were beaten and given very little to eat during their ordeal - appeared dishevelled and upset during the news conference and were unable to comment.

During the kidnap the couple's yacht - en route to the Thai coast - was ransacked. The pair were then taken to the northern Somali region by speedboat.

Pirate attacks against fishing boats, cargo ships and yachts off Somalia's coast have surged over recent months. Foreigners, who can be exchanged for large ransoms, are frequent targets.

Somalia's coastal waters are close to shipping routes connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and the country's interim government lacks the resources to police its own coastline.

In June, the UN Security Council voted to allow countries to send warships into Somalia's waters to tackle the pirates.


SEE ALSO
Navies to tackle Somali pirates
02 Jun 08 |  Africa
Country profile: Somalia
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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