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S. Korean fishing vessel meets EU warship after release from Somali pirates

  A South Korean fishing vessel released from four months of captivity in Somalia met with a European Union warship in international waters and all crew members were confirmed safe, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

   The 241-ton trawler Keummi 305 and its 43 crew members were freed Wednesday four months after the vessel was seized by Somali pirates on Oct. 9. The crew consisted of two Koreans, two Chinese and 39 Kenyans.



   The vessel, also known as "Golden Wave No 305," has since traveled out of Somali waters. It had stayed in international waters due to fuel and other problems before meeting with a Finnish warship in the high seas at 8:16 a.m. (Korean time), officials said.

   The EU warship headed toward the boat to provide escort and assistance at Seoul's request.

   All crew members were confirmed safe, though five Kenyans showed light symptoms of colds and diarrhea, the ministry said.

   The Finnish warship planned to provide the freed vessel with fuel and food before escorting it to the Kenyan port of Mombasa, the ministry said in a statement. They are expected to reach the port around Feb. 16 because the fishing boat cannot travel faster, it said.

    It was unclear why the pirates freed the vessel.

   Officials said they do not believe a ransom was paid. A South Korean businessman in Kenya, who had participated in negotiations to win the release of the ship, also said that no ransom was paid.

   A source in Nairobi said the pirates appear to have released the ship because they saw little chance of receiving a ransom and it was difficult for them to feed the hostages.

   The release came about three weeks after South Korean naval commandos rescued the 11,500-ton freighter Samho Jewelry in a daring operation that killed eight pirates and captured five others. All 21 crew members were rescued alive, though the ship's caption was shot several times and seriously wounded.

   The captured pirates were brought to South Korea for investigation and trial.

   Under South Korean law, the pirates could be sentenced to at least five years in prison for hijacking the ship and life imprisonment or even death for shooting at the captain from a close distance.

   (Yonhap News)

<한글뉴스>

금미호, EU함대와 만나..16일께 케냐 도착

"선원 모두 안전 확인"..식량.기름 보급받아
당국, 협상참여자 상대 정확한 석방경위 확인

    (서울=연합뉴스) 노효동 김연숙 기자 = 소말리아 해적에 의해 9일 풀려난 금미3 05호가 10일 오전 공해상에서 유럽연합(EU) 함대 소속 핀란드군함과 만났다.

    외교통상부는 금미305호가 10일 오전 8시16분께(한국시간) 공해상에서 유럽연합 함대 소속 함정 1척과 만났다고 밝혔다.

    외교부 당국자는 "금미305호는 연료, 식량을 수급하고 간단한 점검을 받은뒤 함 정의 호위를 받으며 제3국의 안전지대인 케냐 몸바사항으로 이동할 예정"이라고  밝 혔다.

    이 당국자는 또 "현재로서는 금미305호의 항해속도가 느려 석방 선원들은  16일 께 몸바사항에 도착할 것으로 예상된다"고 말했다.

    이와 함께 외교부는 청해부대 및 국방부에 의하면 석방 선원은 모두 안전한  것 으로 확인됐고 가벼운 환자만 있다고 전했다.

    선장 김대근씨와 기관장 김용현씨 등 한국인 2명은 건강한 편이고 케냐 선원  5 명이 감기, 설사 등 가벼운 증세를 보이는 것으로 알려졌다.

    정부는 금미305호가 석방됨에 따라 정확한 석방경위를 조사하기로 하고  케냐에 서 선박대리점을 운영하며 석방 협상에 참여했다고 주장하고 있는 김종규(58) 대표 등을 상대로 확인작업을 벌일 방침이다.

    정부 당국자는 "기본적으로 우리 정부의 협상불가 원칙이 강했던 데다 선원  43 명을 보호.관리하는데 따른 비용이 크고 심지어 환자들까지 생겨나고 있어 더는  억 류하는 실익이 크지 않다고 판단한 것 같다"며 "그러나 석방경위에 일부 석연치  않 은 점이 있어 관련자들을 상대로 확인해볼 예정"이라고 말했다. 
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