4 Korean sailors held hostage by Somali pirates for over 500 days


Four South Korean sailors have been held hostage for 500 days with negotiations between a Singaporean shipping company and Somali pirates to release them showing no signs of reaching an agreement, a Seoul official said Monday.

The pirates have been requesting an unreasonably large ransom, the official said.
The hostages are said to be in relatively good health as one of them telephoned his family late July that they were in a safe condition, he added.

The sailors have been held captive since last April when the 21,000-ton vessel MT Gemini, operated by Singapore-based Glory Ship Management, was hijacked in waters off Kenya.
Among 25 crew members on board, the 21 non-Korean sailors were released last November after the pirates agreed to free all the crew members and the hijacked vessel after being paid a ransom. However, the kidnappers broke the agreement of freeing all the hostages keeping the four Koreans.

Sources say little progress has been made so far as pirates are making the terms harder in order to get a ransom several times larger than that the Singaporean company suggested.
Negotiations are mainly carried out by the shipping firm as Seoul government sticks to its policy of non-negotiation with pirates.

“It is difficult for the government to directly engage in negotiations with the pirates,” the official said. “Instead, it has provided a wide range of assistance to the company.”
The official added the government will continue to seek help from the international community, global organizations and the Somali government to release the four.
Meanwhile, the pirates have been taking measures to gain upper hand in the negotiations.
In March, they released a Youtube link to the Somali Channel broadcast footage showing the hostages pleading for Seoul’s help.

According to the official, no Korean nationals have been kidnapped by Somali pirates since the MT Gemini incident. There are cases of other countries whose sailors have been kidnapped and held for more than two years.

“The government will continue to make every effort to secure the safe release of our nationals,” the official said.





Leave a reply