Egyptian fishermen on two boats captured four months ago by Somali pirates have escaped from their captors, officials say.
Police information indicated that two Egyptian fishing boats, held off Lasqorey coast in Somalia's breakaway Puntland region, broke free on Thursday after overpowering the pirates holding them.
There were also unconfirmed reports that some of the pirates had been killed.
Authorities in Puntland said the fishermen had been arrested, and their boats seized, by local security forces in April for illegal offshore activities.
It was not clear how many fishermen were on board the boats during Thursday's getaway, with reports of up to 30 being held.
Mohammed Adow, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Nairobi, Kenya, said the fishermen had made a "daring and dramatic escape" by taking matters into their own hands."The pirates were celebrating the release of an Italian tug boat which had been taken alongside the two Egyptian fishing boats and the pirates had been given $4m in ransom.
"The five pirates guarding the boats were said to be drunk, and the fishermen took advantage of that and attacked the pirates. They are said to have killed two of them and sailed off to Yemen," he said.
Our correspondent said the case highlights how illegal fishing off Somalia's coast is one of the "core issues creating the continuation of piracy".
"The Somali pirates are saying they are just doing what they are doing to guard their country's resouces, and particularly the country's marine resources, which they say all kinds of people from different nationalities are coming in to take advantage of their country's lack of central authority."
Local residents also reported seeing the boats leaving the coast.
"I think some of the pirates are dead because one of them told me that the crews fought them and managed to get away with the boats," Ali Guled, a pirate in Lasqorey village, told the AFP news agency.
In a related development, amid concern about a possible rise in attacks as the monsoon winds ease, officials from the region met military officials from Nato's anti-piracy force on Thursday.
"We had talks with the Nato military officials on board one of their ships ... in order to prevent the pirates from carrying out attacks after the monsoon winds end," Muse Gele Yusuf, a Puntland governor, said.
Source: Al Jazeera (English)