Taiwanese sailor held since 2012 freed by Somali pirates

A Taiwanese sailor has been released after being held captive by Somali pirates for nearly five years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed Sunday.

The ministry said that it has ordered its representative office in South Africa to send a Taiwanese official to Kenya to help Shen Jui-chang (???), the chief engineer of the Omani-flagged fishing vessel the Naham 3, return home as soon as possible.

Shen is one of 26 Asian sailors freed recently after their ship was hijacked close to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean in March 2012, according to a Reuters report.

The freed sailors are from China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan, the report said.

The MOFA said measures have been taken to help with Shen's speedy return after his family expressed the desire for a reunion as soon as possible.

Speaking of the case, the ministry explained that as soon as it was informed of the March 27, 2012 abduction, it acted to coordinate efforts by the relevant authorities in a rescue mission.

It also maintained communication with various international anti-piracy institutes, including the Oceans Beyond Piracy group, and asked for assistance from the Omani government and other countries able to help to secure Shen's safety, the ministry said.

Asked if the pirates received ransom money from any governments or family members concerned, the MOFA said only that in similar cases in recent years, most governments have held the stance of not intervening, to avoid extortion by the pirates.

As far as it knows, the ministry noted, the owner of the Naham 3 paid some of the ransom, while the rest was covered by funds collected through international fund-raising activities organized by groups contracted to negotiate for the release of hostages.

The period the Naham 3 crew members were held captive is one of the longest among all the hostages seized by Somali pirates. They were reported to have arrived in Kenya on Saturday.

The sailors were held in Dabagala near the town of Harardheere, some 400 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Harardheere became known as Somalia's main pirate base at the height of the piracy crisis, Reuters reported.

Citing the Oceans Beyond Piracy group, the news service said the crew were brought ashore by the pirates when their ship sank more than a year after its hijacking.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel