Somali pirates holding four South Koreans in a hijacked chemical tanker are demanding that Seoul pay ransom for the hostages and release five pirates captured during a January raid of a seized Korean freighter, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Hassan Abdi, one of the pirates holding 25 crew aboard the MV Gemini, told the AP that his group wants compensation for eight pirates killed in February when South Korean commandos stormed a ship and freed 21 hostages.
Abdi also said he wants pirates being held prisoner in South Korea to be released.
One of the five Somali pirates, who were captured during a South Korean navy commando raid on a hijacked South Korean freighter in the Arabian Sea in January. (Yonhap News)
"Second, we want compensation from them because they killed our brothers and they also have to release others in their jails. After that we may reconsider holding their nationals in our hands," he said.
The Singapore-registered MV Gemini was hijacked off the Kenyan coast on April 30. Four of the crew are South Korean. The seizure came about three months after South Korean naval commandos raided a Korean-owned freighter on Jan. 21 and rescued all 21 crew members.
Eight pirates were killed and five others were captured alive during the raid. The five survivors were then brought to South Korea for trial. In May, they received sentences ranging from 13 years in prison to life imprisonment. All of them have appealed the verdicts.
South Korean Foreign Ministry officials declined to comment but Yonhap news agency quoted a government official saying that negotiating with pirates was out of the question.
"It is out of question to hold negotiations with pirates, and we cannot release the pirates being tried," the official told Yonhap on the customary condition of anonymity. "It is the Singaporean firm that should hold the negotiations. Our government will deal sternly with this case based on principles.
From news reports