Thirty-four Egyptian fishermen made a triumphant homecoming on Sunday after escaping from Somali pirates who held them captive for four months on the high seas.
Hundreds of relatives and well-wishers gathered at the tiny fishing harbour of Ataka near Suez to welcome the fishermen, who told of being mistreated and almost starved by their captors, banners proclaimed: "Welcome to the sons of Egypt, the heroic fishermen."
"This is a story of Egyptian heroism," the Red Sea director of the fishermen's trade union, Bakri Abul Hassan, told reporters.
The crew of the Ahmad Samar and the Momtaz I were seized in mid-April off the Somali coast, where pirates have attacked scores of vessels on one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes.
"This is the happiest day of my life," said Ismail Abdessalam, the father of one of the fishermen, while Sayyed Sobhi, a 20-year-old fisherman could hardly contain his "joy to be back home after months of misery and mistreatment."
After a four-month ordeal, the fishermen made a daring escape on August 13.
The Egyptian authorities removed the pirates from the vessels and detained them when they entered territorial waters, one of the fishermen said.
The authorities have said that the pirates would be treated "in accordance with international law."
Naim Ibrahim Mohammed, a fisherman on the Momtaz I, denied any outside involvement in the two crews' release.
"One day we agreed to free ourselves. The decision was taken when the pirates' translator told us: 'Noone will come to release you. Your situation is getting worse'," Mohammed said.
"We managed to get hold of their weapons. Some were asleep but each of us fought for his life. We were not afraid of dying, he said, adding: "Egypt didn't do anything."
Last Mod: 24 Ağustos 2009, 09:16