updated 11/4/2007 10:03:07 AM ET 2007-11-04T15:03:07

Somali pirates left two boats they had hijacked in the waters off the Horn of Africa, and the newly liberated vessels — and their crew of 24 — were under U.S. Navy escort on Sunday, the American military said.

A U.S. Navy ship and helicopter were guiding the Tanzanian-flagged boats Mavuno 1 and 2 further out to sea, where naval personnel will later board the vessels and treat crew members, said Cmdr. Lydia Roberston of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. The Navy is in radio contact with pirates aboard three other ships in the region, encouraging them also to leave those ships and sail back to Somalia, she told The Associated Press.

The vessels freed on Sunday were seized May 15 off Somalia. It was not immediately clear how the sailors were freed, or whether any ransom was paid for their release.

All 24 sailors were confirmed safe, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said. Among the crew on the South Korean-owned vessesl were four South Koreans, 10 Chinese, three Vietnamese, three Indians and four Indonesians.

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