Three Taiwanese fishing boats have been hijacked off the coast of Somalia and rebel militias are threatening to kill dozens of crewmen unless the shipowners pay a total ransom of US$1.5 million, officials said yesterday.These boats were taken a couple of weeks ago, but this is the first identiifcation of them I have seen.
The Chung Yi 218 from Kaoshiung County along with ships Cheng Ching Feng and Hsin Lien Fa 36 from Pingtung County were seized separately in mid-August, said Michel Lu, spokesman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
"We received the appeal for help from the ships' owners on August 24," Lu said.
"They said the hijackers had demanded a ransom of 500,000 US dollars for each ship and the crew and threatened to kill them all if the demanded amount was not paid," he said, adding that details of the events were sketchy.
Lu said his ministry's diplomats stationed in Africa had already made contact with rebel militia leaders. He said the relevant Taiwanese ministries including the MOFA, Mainland Affairs Council, and the Fisheries Agency (FA) were working together and rescue efforts were underway.
He said the ship owners should immediately prepare the ransom amount and his ministry was also going through various diplomatic channels, such as international organizations, to find out more about the situation and come up with a plan.
There are about 20 crew on board each of the 95-ton ships. Lu said. Altogether there are 13 mainland Chinese sailors, 14 Indonesians, 12 Filipinos and four Vietnamese. The only Taiwanese were skippers and several senior officers.
Landing the Big One
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Somali pirates seize Taiwanese fishing boats - demand million+ ransom as reported here: