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Home >> World
UPDATED: 15:55, May 17, 2007
Crew of hijacked South Korean ships safe: official
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Twenty five crew members in the two South Korean fishing vessels hijacked off the Somali coast are safe, a Kenyan maritime official said on Thursday.

Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the Mombasa-based Seafarers Assistance Program, said negotiations are underway to secure the release of 10 Chinese, four South Koreans, three Vietnamese, four Indonesians and four Indians who were captured in the pirate- infested Horn of African nation on Tuesday.

"Reports reaching here from the ship owner's representative in Mombasa say that all hostages have been confirmed to be safe," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

The ships were spotted anchored at a port in Somalia 's Ras Assuad, north of Mogadishu, but the official said the exact location of the hostages and the identities of the kidnappers remained unknown.

An unidentified armed group, believed to be Somali pirates, seized the Yemen-bound fishing trawlers christened Mavuno I and Mavuno II.

The 25 crew members were aboard the Tanzanian-registered ships owned by South Korea's Daechang Fishing Company when they were seized on Tuesday about 210 nautical miles (about 389 km) off the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

"The owner of the fishing vessels in capacity was expected in Nairobi on Wednesday night," said Mwangura, adding that the pirates have also captured a Taiwanese vessel.

"The Taiwanese ship has also been seized and are being held together with the South Korean ones. We don't have information on when it was seized, the name of the vessel and crew members on board," he said.

Somalia lies close to crucial shipping routes connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean , where valuable cargo and carriers sail through.

Piracy is rampant in Somalia. The latest hijackings of the South Korean ships and Taiwanese ship are the fifth and sixth reported since the interim government and its Ethiopian allies routed Islamists from Mogadishu late last year.

At least eight vessels have been hijacked in the past two months as the global maritime body warned that the Horn of African nation's coastline is one of the most dangerous in the world.

Source: Xinhua

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