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Somali pirates free kidnapped government minister

A Somali official says pirates have released a government minister they kidnapped two days after he ventured into their territory.

The governor of Mudug region Ahmed Ali Salad said Wednesday that Puntland's Fisheries Minister Said Mohamed Rage and his staff are free. Puntland is a semiautonomous region in northeast Somalia.

Salad said officials paid no ransom.

Pirates ambushed Rage's convoy on Monday because they thought he wanted to expel them from their bases. A soldier guarding the minister was killed during the ambush.

Puntland is a relatively violence-free part of Somalia but in recent years pirate gangs have set up many bases along part of its coastline.