Somali pirates release fishing vessel from Taiwan, China   2010-02-11 22:50:48 FeedbackPrintRSS

NAIROBI, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Somali pirates have released a fishing boat from Taiwan, China, and all of its crew held since April, a regional maritime official said Thursday.

"The Taiwanese ship was released this morning. The fishing vessel which has a crew of 30 from various Asian nationalities was seized in April last year," Andrew Mwangura, East Africa's coordinator of the Africa Seafarers Assistance Program, told Xinhua.

The Win Far 161 was seized last April 4 near an island in the Seychelles, more than 1,100 kilometers off the coast of Somalia.

The ship carried a crew of 30 -- 17 Filipinos, six Indonesians, five from the Chinese Mainland and two from Taiwan, China.

Mwangura said 27 crew members were said to be safe, though a Chinese sailor and two from Indonesia died in captivity.

The coordinator could not confirm whether a ransom was paid to secure the release of the 700-ton ship and crew.

Piracy has been rampant off Somalia since the country slid into chaos after warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Somali pirates now hold at least seven ships and more than 160 crew members.

The hijackings have prompted the international community to deploy security forces in the area to deter the pirates.

Editor: yan
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