x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Somali pirates abduct 43 sailors off Kenya

Somali pirates have hijacked a South Korean-operated fishing boat with 43 sailors.

Somali pirates have hijacked a South Korean-operated fishing boat with 43 sailors.

Seoul's Foreign Ministry said that two South Korean, two Chinese and 39 Kenyans were aboard the 241-ton Kenya-registered trawler when it was attacked October 9 in the waters off Kenya's Lamu Island, South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement.

It was not immediately known if negotiations with the pirates had begun or if they were demanding a ransom.

South Korean officials declined to provide details about the kidnapping, saying that might undermine chances for the fishermen's safe release.

Seoul's Yonhap news agency, however, reported that the ship had been fishing for crab in the area for about one month before being seized and taken to a pirate stronghold in northern Somalia. The report cited the Foreign Ministry and an unidentified South Korean resident living in Kenya.

It identified the ship as the Keummi 305 and the two abducted South Koreans as the captain, 54, and an engineer, 67, both surnamed Kim.

Yonhap said the area has been considered relatively safe because it is about 400 kilometres away from the nearest pirate base and Kenya's navy regularly patrols the site. It said the pirates were believed to have raided the ship and taken control of it at night.

*AP