Mogadishu - Somali security forces have rescued a South African couple kidnapped by pirates in the Indian Ocean and held for 18 months, Defence Minister Hussein Arab Isse said on Thursday.
"The rescue started last night (Wednesday) and lasted until this morning and you can see that the pair were freed safely," Isse told reporters during a joint press conference with the couple, Debbie Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari.
Isse said the raid was a joint operation by security forces and the army. Sources said the operation took place in the lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia.
Isse added that more such raids may be staged.
"We know the whereabouts of the rest of the hostages, including the French agent, and if the kidnappers fail to free them, we will forcefully rescue them," he said, referring to a French intelligence agent seized in Mogadishu in July 2009 and detained since.
Calitz and Pelizzari were sailing in the Indian Ocean when their yacht was hijacked by pirates who then set course for Somalia.