S. Korean ship sails on after freed from pirates

Published: February 10, 2011

A South Korean fishing boat released after four months of captivity by Somali pirates linked up with a European Union warship on Thursday and all crew members were confirmed safe, Seoul said.
The 241-ton crab fishing vessel and its 43 crew members — two South Koreans, two Chinese and 39 Kenyans — were freed Wednesday after being seized on October 9.
The Keummi (Golden Wave) 305 refuelled in international waters and has started sailing for the Kenyan port of Mombasa under escort by a Finnish warship, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.
It is expected to reach Mombasa around February 16, the ministry said.
Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying no ransom was paid. The vessel’s owner had gone bankrupt, complicating ransom negotiations.
An industry source in Kenya told Yonhap the ship was freed because the captors saw little chance of receiving a ransom and it was difficult for them to feed the crew.
Piracy has surged in recent years off Somalia, a lawless, war-torn country that sits alongside one of the world’s most important shipping routes.
Since 2006 at least three South Korean vessels have been seized and released after ransoms were paid. One of them, the 300,000-tonne Samho Dream, was freed last year after a reported $9 million payment.
Somali pirates hijacked a South Korean chemical tanker in the Arabian Sea on January 15, but the ship and its crew were rescued by South Korean naval commandos in a dramatic raid six days later.
Eight pirates were killed while all 21 crew were rescued. Police said the pirates shot and critically wounded the ship’s South Korean captain.
Five captured Somalis have been taken to the southern port of Busan and formally arrested for suspected maritime robbery, attempted murder and ship hijacking.
Source: AFP

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