Three Korean sailors are presumed to have been kidnapped in seas off Ghana, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday, with a Korean anti-piracy warship being dispatched to the area.

According to the ministry, a 500-ton fishing boat named the Marine 711 with over 40 crew members aboard, including the three Koreans, is believed to have been hijacked by unidentified pirates on Monday.

Three Korean sailors taken by pirates near Ghana
Caption: South Korean warship Munmu the Great, above, was dispatched to the sea off Ghana to search and rescue three South Korean sailors who were possibly kidnapped by unidentified pirates on Monday. / Courtesy of Wikipedia

While moving into Nigerian waters, the pirates transferred some of the sailors, including the Korean sailors, to a speedboat on Tuesday, with their whereabouts still unknown.

The hijacked ship, registered in Ghana, arrived at the Port of Tema on the eastern coast of Ghana on Wednesday, and some 40 Ghanaian sailors were released there, the ministry said.

The ministry added that it is closely cooperating with Ghana, Nigeria and other nations to find out the whereabouts of those kidnapped.

Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the ship was seized by Nigerian pirates, and Munmu the Great, a Korean warship which has been operating in waters off Oman’s Port of Salalah, is scheduled to arrive in the area on April 16.

The ministry said the pirates have not yet demanded a ransom in return for the release of the abducted sailors.

According to the ministry, the pirates failed to seize two Greek ships before hijacking the Marine 711, but they succeeded in capturing and detaining two foreigners from those ships.

Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered an all-out effort to secure the Koreans’ release, the ministry added.

South Korean elite naval troops are on their way to waters off Ghana aboard a 4,400-ton destroyer on a rescue mission, defense authorities said Sunday.

The destroyer also carries Lynx multi-role choppers armed with 12.7-mm machine guns.

Source: Yonhap