Somali pirates release crew of South Korean ship: Report

October 17th, 2008 - 1:20 am ICT by IANS  

Nairobi/Mogadishu, Oct 16 (DPA) Somali pirates have released the crew of a South Korean ship seized last month, reports said Thursday.The BBC, quoting the South Korean foreign ministry, said that eight South Korean and 14 Burmese nationals were making their way to a nearby US Navy ship after being released earlier in the day.

The foreign ministry would not reveal if a ransom was paid.

Another ship, Ukraine’s MV Faina and its cargo of 33 T-72 tanks and other military equipment, is still being held by pirates, who are demanding a multi-million-dollar ransom.

The pirates, who are hemmed in by international warships, have threatened to blow up the ship if they do not receive the ransom, which was originally set at $20 million.

However, the deadline they set of early Tuesday morning has passed with no incident.

Piracy has surged off the coast of Somalia this year, with over 30 ships seized, as gunmen look to cash in on increasingly large ransoms.

The latest ship to be seized was a Philippine bulk carrier, hijacked Wednesday along with its crew of 21.

Somalia lies alongside the Gulf of Aden, which is part of the route linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea through the Red Sea and the Suez canal.

Around 200,000 ships use it each year, making it one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The UN has authorized the use of force when dealing with pirates and the EU, NATO and other nations have agreed to send frigates to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

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