Somali pirates torturing hostages

NAIROBI, Kenya — Somali pirates have systematically tortured hostages and used them as human shields, the top commander of the European Union Naval Force said Tuesday.

Pirates have recently tied hostages upside down and dragged them in the sea, locked them in freezers, beaten them and used plastic ties around their genitals, Maj. Gen. Buster Howes told The Associated Press.

"There have been regular manifestations of systematic torture," he said. If warships approached a pirated ship too closely, the pirates would drag hostages on deck and beat them in front of naval officers until the warship went away, Howes said.

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