Rescue them quicklyThe whereabouts of three Korean sailors believed to have been kidnapped by pirates in the seas off of Ghana remains unknown. According to authorities, a 500-ton fishing boat named Marine 711 with over 40 people on board, including three Koreans, came under attack by unidentified pirates on March 26. The pirates, presumed to be Nigerian, took the three Koreans on a separate speedboat. The last time Koreans were captured by Somali pirates, they were rescued by Korean naval special forces.
A week has passed, but the ship operator and Seoul authorities have not been able to locate or come in contact with the kidnappers. The government has dispatched Munmu the Great, a Korean warship which has been operating in waters of Oman’s Port of Salalah. The ship will arrive around April 16.
The piracy that used to be active off the coast of Somalia in East Africa has moved its central stage to West Africa after the international community’s clampdown. Attacks around Somalia this year have been limited to four cases, while there have been 44 assaults in the Gulf of Guinea. Even as the West African Sea has turned into an epicenter of maritime piracy, the Cheonghae Anti-piracy unit has kept watch only around the East Africa Sea. Authorities must join forces with others from around the world to combat pirating activities in West Africa.
It is imperative to bring back the sailors safely back home. Nigerian pirates are notorious for holding hostages for a long time to pocket a heavy ransom. Authorities must act fast to locate them and recruit professional negotiators for rescue operations. Protecting the lives of citizens must be a priority. We must all unite in praying for their safe return.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 2, Page 30