, SEOUL, October 16 – Somali pirates on Thursday released 22 crew members they kidnapped last month from a South Korean ship, the foreign ministry in Seoul said.
The eight South Koreans and 14 Myanmar nationals were captured on September 10 when their 15,000-tonne cargo ship was seized off the coast of Somalia.
"The 21 were set free at 7:30 p.m. and are in the process of heading to a US Navy ship" in the Gulf of Aden, said foreign ministry spokesman Moon Tae-Young.
The South Koreans were expected to return home on October 26, he said.
No further details were immediately available on the conditions of their release. Ransoms were paid in previous cases.
Somali waters are the world’s most dangerous for piracy. The International Maritime Bureau reported more than 24 attacks in the area between April and June.
Maritime experts say many other attacks go unreported along Somalia’s 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) of largely unpatrolled coast. Pirates operate high-powered speedboats and carry heavy machine guns and rocket launchers.
A South Korean tuna ship with 25 crew was hijacked by Somali pirates in April 2006. The ship and its crew were released after four months when a ransom was paid.
Last year Somali pirates seized two South Korean vessels and 24 crew including four South Koreans.
The crew were released in November after six months in captivity. Local media reports said the pirates had demanded a ransom of five million dollars before reducing the sum to an undisclosed figure.
In April this year a South Korean bulk carrier came under attack from machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the Gulf of Aden. The captain took evasive measures to prevent the 10 pirates in two speedboats from boarding.