Sunday, January 16, 2011

Korean Navy Ship Ordered to Pursue Pirates

As Reported HERE
S. Korea warship pursues hijacked vessel

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 15:16:00 01/16/2011

Filed Under: Hijacking (General), Sea piracy
SEOUL – (UPDATE) South Korea has ordered a warship to chase a cargo ship hijacked by suspected Somali pirates, a Seoul official said Sunday, as President Lee Myung-Bak urged "all possible measures" to rescue the 21 crew.
The destroyer Choi Young was sent to pursue the Samho Jewelry, a 11,500-ton South Korean chemical freighter seized in the Indian Ocean, a presidential spokeswoman said.
Lee held an emergency meeting on Sunday and urged officials to take "all possible measures" to rescue the ship and crew, she said.
Samho Jewelry was carrying eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 crew from Myanmar when it was hijacked on its way from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka.
All crew members being held by the pirates have been confirmed safe so far, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
"The crewmen have been confirmed safe for now, with no unusual signs in their (physical) conditions... the ship's location has been identified," the spokesman told AFP.
Yonhap news agency said it would "take at least two days" for the warship, which is carrying more than 300 naval troops including special commandos, to reach the hijacked vessel, citing an unnamed government source.
According to the European Union's anti-piracy mission, Samho Jewelry is owned by a Norwegian company and operated by South Korea's Samho Shipping, based in the southern port city of Busan.
Saturday's hijacking came two months after a supertanker belonging to the same South Korean shipping company was released by Somali pirates after being held for seven months.
The 300,000-ton Samho Dream and its 24 crew were released only after the pirates were paid a ransom reported as a record $9 million.
Piracy has surged in the waters off lawless Somalia in recent years, and international warships patrol the area in an effort to clamp down on the problem.
After the latest hijacking, pirates now hold 29 vessels and 693 hostages off the coast of Somalia.

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