Korean fishing boat seized by pirates

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Korean fishing boat seized by pirates

A Korean fishing boat carrying 43 sailors, including two Koreans, has been held captive by Somali pirates since earlier this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday.

The delayed news arrived as the kidnapping by Somali pirates of another Korean ship, the Samho Dream, remains unsolved for more than 190 days, adding to concerns about the vulnerability of Korean ships to piracy.

The ministry said the 241-ton trawler Keummi 305 was fishing 10 miles off Lamu, Kenya, in the Indian Ocean when it was hijacked on Oct.9. The kidnapped ship and its sailors are being held captive in the pirates’ stronghold of Harardhere, a port city 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the Somali capital Mogadishu, it said.

Aboard the Keummi 305 was the 54-year-old Korean skipper, known by his surname Kim, and another Korean man, the 67-year-old chief engineer. There were also 39 Kenyan and two Chinese sailors.

According to ministry officials, the Keummi had been fishing for crabs for a month in the area. The area had been considered safe from Somali piracy because ships from the Kenyan Navy patrol in the area on a regular basis. The pirates’ base in Harardhere is more than 400 kilometers (248 miles) from that area away.

The exact time of the seizure was not known, but sources suspect the armed pirates seized the Korean ship in the middle of the night. No other information was available.

The ministry said it has formed a task force to deal with the kidnapping of the Keummi and set up a field base at the Korean Embassy in Kenya. “We will work closely with the Kenyan government to resolve the case,” a Foreign Ministry official said.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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