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.
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