Thu, Jul 19, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Taiwanese skipper, crew released by pirates

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked the EU, international anti-piracy organizations and China for their help in ensuring a Taiwanese skipper and his crew were safely returned upon completion of ransom negotiations by the owner of the ship.

Taiwanese trawler Shiuh Fu No. 1, with a Taiwanese skipper, 13 Chinese and 12 Vietnamese crewmen on board, was seized in December 2010 by Somalian pirates.

All personnel have been released and are safe, the ministry said in a statement at 5am.

The boat was hijacked when it was operating in the Indian Ocean.

Department of African Affairs Director-General Hsu Mien-sheng (徐勉生) said the ministry had contacted international anti-piracy organizations and the EU, requesting their help to rescue the hostages soon after the ministry learned from Shiuh Fu Fishery Co that it had reached an agreement on a ransom.

In a departure from previous practice, in which hostages have been released on land and were then able to sail their original fishing vessel back home after the ransom had been delivered to the pirates, the hostages this time were released at sea because the trawler has been stranded since last year and the pirates did not have haul-off equipment, Hsu said.

Hsu said the ministry had initially planned to arrange a charter flight to bring the 26 hostages to Taiwan after the pirates sent them to a nearby airport, but it abandoned that plan because the pirates were unable to guarantee their safe arrival at the airport.

International anti-piracy organizations arranged for a Chinese military vessel that operates anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia to pick up the hostages, Hsu said, adding that the ministry had little information about how the rescue mission was arranged because Taiwan is not a member of the anti-piracy organizations.

Hsu said the ministry had sent its personnel stationed in the representative office in South Africa to Tanzania to await the hostages’ arrival.

Since 2005, nine Taiwanese fishing boats have been hijacked by Somalian pirates and the Shiuh Fu No. 1 is the last of them to be released, the ministry said.

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