Mogadishu: Somali pirates holding South
Korean hostages demanded today that the South Korean
government release pirate prisoners and pay compensation for a
commando raid that killed several pirates earlier this year.
The attempt to use hostages to get concessions directly
from their governments is a new trend, following demands made
to the Indian government in April.
Hassan Abdi, one of the pirates holding 25 crew aboard
the MV Gemini, told The Associated Press that his group wants
compensation for eight pirates killed in February when South
Korean commandos stormed a ship and freed 21 hostages.
Abdi also he wants pirates being held prisoner in South
Korea to be released.
"First, we want the South Korean government to change
its foolish treatment of us and come with a better approach
toward us," he said in a statement read to a news agency.
"Second, we want compensation from them because they
killed our brothers and they also have to release others in
their jails. After that we may reconsider holding their
nationals in our hands," he said.
The MV Gemini was hijacked off the Kenyan coast in May.
Four of the crew are South Korean.
For the past two years, pirates have been holding
hundreds of hostages at any one time. Some are from nations
like the Philippines, which does not have a naval presence off
the East African coast. But many hostages are Indian, a
country which has taken an active role in anti-piracy
In April, pirates released the MV Asphalt Venture but
kept seven Indian crew members, saying they had been angered
by the Indian navy`s killing of several colleagues and that
the pirates wanted to exchange the hostages for prisoners held
Most hijackings end with million-dollar ransoms being
paid. The cash is a fortune in war-ravaged, drought-stricken
Somalia. Most of the arid Horn of Africa nation has not had a
functioning government for more than 20 years.