|Dryad Global's tweet shows the position of a Ghanaian fishing vessel from which two Korean crew members among 52 onboard appeared to have been kidnapped after the ship was hijacked in waters south of Lome, Togo. Capture from Dryad Global's Twitter|
Two South Korean fishermen kidnapped in waters off Ghana in August have been released, their company said Saturday.
The two were abducted Aug. 28 when their Ghanaian-flagged fishing vessel was attacked by a group of armed militants in waters 200 kilometers southeast of Ghana.
The boat had a total of 50 crew, but the militants only took the two South Koreans hostage, Seoul officials said earlier
"The crew members were released just now," an official from their employer, BSK, told Yonhap News Agency, adding the two were now in Nigeria.
Their health condition is not yet known, the official said, noting that the South Korean Embassy in Nigeria had supported negotiations for their release.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release in Seoul, saying the freed fishermen were in relatively good health and have been sent to a safe place arranged by the South Korean Embassy in Nigeria.
"The Koreans were released at 4:30 a.m., Oct. 17 (KST), or 8:30 p.m., Oct. 16 (local time). In accordance with their wishes, they will move to Ghana, where they were stationed, as soon as a flight is secured," the ministry said.
The ministry said it arranged telephone calls between the freed fishermen and their families soon after their release and that it plans to offer all possible consular support for their safe return to Ghana.
Their release came 50 days after their abduction.
The two South Koreans and 48 Ghanaian crew members were aboard the 500-ton vessel AP 703 at 8:04 a.m. on the day of the attack. The pirates took only the Koreans and headed toward Nigeria. The remaining crew returned the ship to Ghana.
The incident came two months after five Korean sailors were abducted in waters off Benin in western Africa. They were aboard the Ghanaian vessel Panofi Frontier when it was attacked by an armed group June 24. They were released in southern Nigeria a month later. Earlier in May, a Korean shrimp fisherman was kidnapped off the coast of Gabon and was released the following month.
Following repeated abductions in waters off West Africa, calls have been mounting for the government to craft stronger safety measures, such as restricting fishing or other operations in the perilous waters. (Yonhap)