Nigerian Pirates Free Kidnapped South Korean Sailors

Three South Korean sailors kidnapped by Nigerian pirates in seas off Ghana last month have been released safely, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Saturday.

“Our three abducted nationals were freed on April 27 (local time) and were handed to our side,” the ministry said. “They are in our protection in a safe place.”

The captain, engineer and mate of the 500-ton fishing boat, Marine 711, were hijacked by pirates, identified as Nigerians  on March 26.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon announced their release on Facebook earlier Saturday. He did not indicate where they were freed and where they had been taken.

“All three sailors kidnapped in waters off Ghana were freed safely,” Lee said.

The sailors will undergo health checks and will be moved to Munmu the Great, a South Korean warship dispatched to the area to help rescue them, he said. The warship had been involved in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Over 40 crew members were aboard the Marine 711, registered in Ghana, when it was hijacked by nine pirates.

The kidnappers steered the boat into Nigerian waters and then took the South Koreans elsewhere using a speedboat.

Later, the hijacked ship arrived at the Port Of Tema on the eastern coast of Ghana, where some 40 Ghanaian sailors disembarked.

South Korea has been coordinating with nearby countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Benin. Negotiations have been under way for their release, the ministry said.

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