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Somali pirates capture 2 Yemeni boats, crew members

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  • 22 fishermen captured as part of seizure, Yemen's official news agency reports
  • German cruise liner opts to fly passengers, crew over Gulf of Aden
  • 100 vessels have been attacked off Somalia's coast so far this year
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(CNN) -- Somali pirates captured two Yemeni fishing boats and 22 Yemeni fishermen Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden, Yemen's official news agency SABA said.

SABA, citing sources in Yemen's Coast Guard, said seven other fishermen escaped on a small boat prior to the pirates' taking control of the fishing boats.

The news agency also said that, after hijacking a different Yemeni ship last month and demanding $2 million ransom, Somali pirates freed the cargo ship and its crew without receiving ransom after local clan elders and officials pleaded with them to do so.

On Tuesday, the German cruise liner MS Columbus said it would fly its 246 passengers and most of its crew over the Gulf of Aden instead of through it to avoid any pirate attack.

The number of attacks off Somalia has shot up this year, with pirates staging increasingly bolder attacks on ever-bigger targets.

So far this year, pirates have attacked almost 100 vessels off Somalia's coast and successfully hijacked nearly 40, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

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