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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Somali pirates seize South Korean trawler



Reported here:
Pirates hijacked a South Korean trawler off the coast of Africa on Tuesday, escaping into Somalia's territorial waters after threatening the ship's crew, the U.S. Navy reported.

The 160-foot fishing vessel Dong Won 628 was nearly 70 miles off the Somali coast when its crew reported coming under fire, the Navy said in a written statement.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt and the Dutch frigate Zeven Provincien attempted to intercept the ship before it entered Somali waters, but backed off after the pirates threatened the trawler's crew with guns, the Navy said.

Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Breslau told The Associated Press that when the Dong Won turned toward Somalia, one or both of the U.S. and Dutch ships fired warning shots in its direction. Members of the South Korean crew were then seen on the deck of the Dong Won with guns pointed at them, so the U.S. and Dutch ships pulled back, he told AP.

"The top priority is the safety of innocent lives," the Navy statement said.
Well, that sounds nice, but it gives the pirates the trump card in almost situation...a threatened hostage is a "get away free" card...

We'd better find a solution (perhaps hanging any pirate who kills a hostage from the nearest yardarm and making sure the word gets out)?...

Korean press version here.

UPDATE (4/5/06) A Korean "task force" is establsihed as reported here.
South Korea said Wednesday it has set up a task force to seek the release of a South Korean fishing vessel that was captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The 628 Dongwon was seized Tuesday afternoon by eight armed assailants, who approached in two speed boats firing guns, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

All 25 crew members being held captive were confirmed safe, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon told reporters. The captain and some of the crew members have been allowed to call company headquarters and their families in South Korea, he said.

The crew includes eight South Koreans, nine Indonesians, five Vietnamese and three Chinese, according to the ministry.

"We are still trying to figure out the identity of the kidnap group and they have yet to suggest conditions for negotiations," Ban said. "We are devoting all possible efforts for (the crew's) safe return."

South Korea has sent letters to the governments of Somalia and neighboring Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia asking for their cooperation in facilitating the crew's release, Ban said.
My advice, if you plan to get the crew back without physically taking them back: Don't bother with letters, just send some cash...

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