Royal Navy frees hostages held by pirates

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The Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov as seen from HMS Somerset in the Moray Firth

Royal Navy ship shadows a Russian destroyer

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ROYAL Navy sailors have freed five hostages after storming a boat operated by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.

The boarding party from HMS Cornwall freed the Yemeni fishermen, who had been held hostage by the pirates for three months.

Cornwall was alerted by a South Korean merchant vessel, which spotted the Somali boat acting suspiciously, the Ministry of Defence said.

The naval boarding party found the Yemeni fishermen along with weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, and three skiffs used to launch attacks.

The frigate arrived at the scene with a boarding team supported overhead by a Lynx helicopter.

Commander David Wilkinson, the commanding officer of the Devonport-based frigate, said: ‘Our presence in the area has had a hugely significant effect on the lives of five Yemeni fishermen.

‘They have been freed from over three months of pirate captivity and can now return to their families.’

Piracy in the busy shipping lanes off Somalia has flourished since its government collapsed in 1991.

The piracy industry has evolved into a multi-million dollar business with almost daily attacks.