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Pirates free hostage yacht family

A family with three children was among seven hostages released by Somali pirates who held them for more than six months.

The family and two crew members, all Danish, were captured in the Indian Ocean on February 24 while sailing around the world in a yacht.

Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit, sons Rune and Hjalte and daughter Naja, aged between 12 and 16 were were along with the crew when their 43-foot yacht was seized by the pirates.

The Johansens are from Kalundborg, 75 miles from Copenhagen. They set out on their round-the-world journey in 2009.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said they were on their way back in a chartered plane paid for by their insurance company. He said their release came after "a long period of negotiations."

"Of course it is very cheerful news," said Ole Meridin Petersen, chairman of the Kalundborg yacht club, where Mr Johansen was a member.

"I can imagine that the hostages after their release need quite a lot of calm," he said.

The yacht was seized while the Johansens were sailing through the pirate-infested waters off East Africa.

"The family very likely is aware that what they did was not so fortunate. They certainly feel pretty bad about it now," Mr Meridin Petersen said.

Hostages are held in hot, austere conditions in Somalia - typically for many months - before a ransom is agreed on and paid, and the hijacked ships and crew are released. Last year, a British sailing couple were released after 388 days in captivity. Reports indicated that a ransom in the region of a million dollars was paid for their release.

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