South Korea establishes contact with distressed vessel off Somalia

Mongolian squid fishing vessel

South Korea said on Saturday it has resumed contact with a distressed fishing vessel that feared it was being followed by a suspected pirate vessel off the waters of Somalia, and that the 3 Koreans and 18 Indonesians on board were safe.

The South Korean military had dispatched its anti-piracy naval unit after communication with the Mongolian squid fishing vessel was cut when it requested help after midnight on Friday.

The vessel’s South Korean captain confirmed the safety of the three South Koreans, the foreign ministry said in the statement. A foreign ministry official told Reuters the vessel was “not hijacked” and that the Indonesians were also safe.

The ministry had said earlier that South Korean authorities were working with their counterparts in countries, including the United States, Germany, India and Japan, to trace the vessel. It added that it will now drop its “request for cooperation to related countries and wrap up the case”.

On Tuesday, Somali pirates hijacked an Iranian fishing vessel to use as a base to attack bigger, more valuable ships, part of an upsurge in attacks following years of relative calm.

This month has seen a new rash of attacks, with two ships captured and a third rescued by Indian and Chinese forces after the crew radioed for help and locked themselves in a safe room. 

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