x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

N Korea frees captured fishermen

North Korea has freed four South Korean fishermen it has held for almost a month, maritime police said.

North Korea has freed four South Korean fishermen it has held for almost a month, maritime police said. "The (fishing boat) Yeonanho and the four fishermen were handed over to the South at 5pm (8am GMT)," a police spokesman told AFP by phone. Escorted by two South Korean patrol boats, the fishing boat and its crew were heading to the South's Sokcho port, a three-hour journey by sea, police said. The trawler drifted into the North's waters off the east coast on July 30 in an incident the South blamed on a malfunctioning navigation system.

North Korea had insisted that the boat illegally intruded into its territorial waters, but it said on Friday it would set the men free today. The release marked the latest in a series of conciliatory gestures this month by Pyongyang towards the South and the United States. *AFP