"Their escape comes at a time when their families in Egypt were collecting funds from friends for their release and the negotiator in Puntland was said to have offered the pirates $200,000 for their release just a day before the fisherman secured their freedom," Adow reported.

However, the authorities in Puntland, a breakaway region of Somalia, said that the fishermen had been arrested by local security forces for illegal offshore activities in April.

Local accounts

Residents of Lasqorey, a coastal village near where the Egyptians were being held, confirmed seeing two boats leave the coast.

In depth



 The pirate kings of Puntland 
 
Q&A: Return to Somalia
 Q&A: Piracy in the Gulf of Aden
Timeline: Somalia

Videos:
 
Life inside the den of Somalia's pirates
 Lucrative raids lure Somali youth
 Meet the pirates
 Somalia guard struggles to combat piracy

Ali Guled, a pirate in Lasqorey, told the AFP news agency: "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."

Adow said the pirates had been celebrating the release of an Italian tugboat which had been taken alongside the two Egyptian fishing boats and for which they had been paid $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."

The case highlights how illegal fishing off Somalia's coast is one of the "core issues creating the continuation of piracy", our correspondent said.

"The Somali pirates say they are just guarding their country's resouces. All kinds of people from different nationalities are coming in to take advantage of their country's lack of central authority, they say."

Nato force

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.

Muse Gele Yusuf, a Puntland governor, said: "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."

Due to the rise in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden, the waterway is now patrolled by international vessels.

Simon Jones, the chief executive of Triton International, a maritime security company based in Abu Dhabi, told Al Jazeera: "It is not the responsibility of merchant seamen to defend a vessel ... it is the responsibility of the navies or professional individuals  trained to defend a vessel.

"Currently what you have is armed Somali pirates shooting at boats.

"If you have a professional armed man aboard, he is going to present a profile on that vessel that deters them from coming on board.

"It will deter them. I've seen it with my own eyes."