Somalia pirates free Danish family seized in February

File picture of a Somali pirate in Hobyo, Somalia Instability in Somalia has allowed piracy to flourish

A Danish family of five and two crew members captured by Somali pirates in February have been freed and brought to safety, Denmark's government says.

Jan Quist Johansen, his wife, their three children, and two other adults were taken hostage on 24 February.

The foreign ministry said they were in relatively good condition and expected back in Denmark shortly.

In March, soldiers from the semi-autonomous Puntland region were killed during a failed attempt to rescue them.

"The foreign ministry confirms that the Danish sailors from the sailing ship ING - the two parents, their three children and two crewmembers - held hostage by Somali pirates since the 24 February 2011, have now been released," said the ministry in a statement.

A ransom of $3m (£1.9m) was paid for their release, reports the BBC's East Africa correspondent Will Ross.

The Johansens, their children - aged between 12 and 16 - and crew were seized in the Indian Ocean as they were sailing around the world. They were apparently aware of the danger of piracy.

Their yacht was seized just two days after four Americans aboard another hijacked vessel were shot dead during an effort by the US military to free them.

Pirate activity has been slow in recent weeks because of the monsoon season, says our correspondent.

Nonetheless, pirates continue to hold at least 30 vessels and their crew captured off the Horn of Africa.

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