Page last updated at 09:02 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 10:02 UK

Crews 'overpower Somali pirates'

Somali pirates in a speedboat in the Indian Ocean
Somali piracy has become a major international issue

About 40 Egyptian fishermen have escaped from their Somali pirate captors near the northern town of Las Qorey, reports from the region say.

A wounded pirate, found on a beach with machete wounds, said the crew attacked him and his colleagues with tools and then seized their weapons.

He said that at least two pirates died before the crew sailed towards waters patrolled by international navies.

The two fishing vessels were captured four months ago.

They were taken along with an Italian tug boat, which was recently freed after a ransom was paid.

Said Jama Hussein, a businessman in Las Qorey, said there were now no more vessels in the area.

Correspondents say police in the region are investigating.

Somalia has been without a functioning central government since 1991, allowing pirates to operate in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Earlier in June the European Union, which co-operates with Nato in the region, agreed to extend its anti-piracy operation there until the end of 2010.

Two dozen ships from European Union nations, including Britain, France, Germany and Italy, patrol an area of about two million square miles.

When first loaded, the map's focus falls on Somalia where most of the pirates are based. Use the arrow icons to scroll left towards Europe and the United States which are both playing a central role in tackling the problem.

Scroll to the right for a story about the Philippines, which supplies many of the world's mariners.

You can zoom in for more detail by using the "+" or "-" signs on the upper left hand side.

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