The bodies of eight Somali pirates killed in last month's commando raid on a South Korean freighter have been removed from the ship, the first step in transporting them to Somalia, an official said Thursday.
The bodies were being kept in a refrigerator aboard the 11,500-ton Samho Jewelry after the Jan. 21 rescue operation to free the cargo ship and its 21 crew members. Five other pirates were captured and all of the crew were rescued alive, though the captain was seriously wounded.
The chemical carrier has since moved to the Omani port of Muscat and is stationed there.
On Wednesday, the bodies were removed from the ship and taken to a police hospital mortuary in Oman, a foreign ministry official said. The freighter planned to leave the port later Thursday, he said.
Somalia agreed to take over the pirates' remains and South Korea agreed to pay for transporting them.
Seoul is considering various transportation means, including chartering a cargo plane, the official said. It is expected to take at least a week to complete the process, he said.