Thursday, September 11, 2008
A South Korean cargo ship with Korean and foreign sailors aboard has been seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia, diplomatic sources said. Eight Korean sailors and an unspecified number of foreigners were on the ship when it was seized at 4:00 pm Korean time (0700 GMT), the sources said. The foreign ministry said it could not immediately confirm the report. Somali waters are the most dangerous in the world for piracy. The International Maritime Bureau reported more than 24 attacks in the area between April and June. Maritime experts say many other attacks go unreported along Somalia's 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) of largely unpatrolled coast. Pirates operate high-powered speedboats and carry heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. A South Korean tuna ship with 25 crew members was hijacked by Somali pirates in April 2006.The ship and its crew were released after four months when a ransom was paid. Last year, Somali pirates seized two South Korean vessels and 24 crew including four South Koreans. The crew was released in November after six months in captivity. Local media reports said the pirates had demanded a ransom of five million dollars before reducing the sum to an undisclosed figure. The reports said the kidnappers had badly beaten the South Koreans, with one suffering a broken tooth and ear damage. In April this year, a South Korean bulk carrier came under attack in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. Pirates believed to be from Somalia attacked the ship for about 40 minutes with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. captain took evasive measures to prevent the 10 pirates in two speedboats from boarding.