Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow, reporting from Nairobi, Kenya, said: "The Egyptian fishermen are sailing home, but have declined to be airlifted as they have said it will be fitting if they can sail home.

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"It will have been a very harrowing experience ... captives are sometimes held by men who are high on drugs, they are holding guns, they are very well-armed."

According to a Yemeni businessman who hired the boats, Ahmed Samara and Momtaz 1, the fishermen on both vessels co-ordinated their attack on Thursday and some of the pirates even co-operated with them.

"The crew on both boats started their operations at one time. They were co-ordinating among themselves," Mohamed Alnahdi, the executive manager of Mashrq Marine Product, said. 

Alnahdi said that he had been in the town of Bossaso in Somalia for more than a month trying to negotiate their release, but talks had become deadlocked over the amount of ransom to be paid.

The pirates had reportedly  been celebrating the release of an Italian tugboat, which had been taken alongside the two Egyptian fishing boats, for which they had been paid $4m in ransom when the Egyptians made their move.

Pirate attacks have more than doubled in the first half of 2009, with 130 cases taking place in the Gulf of Aden, according to international maritime officials.

International naval patrols in the region have failed to halt the attacks.