Somali pirates find 7 bodies, blame Egyptians

BOSSASO, Somalia Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:57pm EDT

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BOSSASO, Somalia (Reuters) - Somali pirates found seven dead colleagues floating in the ocean on Saturday and vowed to take revenge against Egyptian fishermen they say killed them during an escape, an associate of the pirates said.

The 34 fishermen had been held hostage by the pirates since April, but they managed to overpower their guards on Thursday and fled in their two fishing vessels after a gun battle.

Two of their captors were killed during that shoot-out, and the pirates said the Egyptians took several others with them.

"We have found seven of our dead colleagues floating in the sea," said the associate, who gave his name as Farah, by telephone from one of the gangs' strongholds, Las Qoray.

"The Egyptian crew members killed them ... we used to welcome them and treat the Egyptians better than other hostages, but if we capture more of them we shall get our revenge."

Sea gangs from the failed Horn of Africa state have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms targeting shipping using the strategic Gulf of Aden that links Europe to Asia.

(Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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