Pirates to China: 'do not endanger crew lives with rescue operation'

Chinese FM spokesman Zhaoxu told reporters earlier in Beijing that his government had "actively started rescue operations" for the ship.

Pirates to China: 'do not endanger crew lives with rescue operation'

Pirates from Somalia who hijacked a Chinese bulk carrier in the Indian Ocean threatened on Tuesday to execute its 25 Chinese crew members if any rescue operation was attempted.

The De Xin Hai was carrying about 76,000 tonnes of coal from South Africa to India when it was seized by gunmen on Monday some 700 nautical miles east of the failed Horn of Africa state.

"We tell China not to endanger the lives of their people with any rescue operation," Hassan, an associate of the group, told Reuters by phone from the pirate stronghold Haradheere.

"If they try that we will execute the whole crew ... we tell them to change their mind regarding any rescue, otherwise they will regret it. We know what they are planning to do."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters earlier in Beijing that his government had "actively started rescue operations" for the ship, but declined to give details.

Observers said they expected a diplomatic resolution.

The European Union's counter-piracy force said an EU maritime patrol aircraft had located the vessel on Monday.

"The aircraft spotted at least four pirates on the deck and the vessel is towing two skiffs. It was last reported heading west towards the Somali coast," said John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU naval force in Brussels.

Hassan told Reuters his colleagues were planning to sail the captured ship to either Haradheere or Hobyo, both former fishing villages north of Mogadishu that have become pirate bases.

A spokesman for its owner, Qingdao Ocean Shipping Co. Ltd., told China's official Xinhua news agency that it had received a report from the ship at 3:50 p.m. Beijing time on Monday saying that armed pirates were on board, but then it lost contact.

Last Thursday, Somali gunmen captured a Singapore-owned container ship, the MV Kota Wajar, which had 21 crew on board.

Among others vessels, the pirates are also holding a Spanish fishing boat with 36 sailors that they hijacked on Oct. 2. That group says it will not negotiate their release until colleagues facing hijacking charges in Madrid are freed.

China sent three warships to Somali waters late last year after a ship carrying oil to China was attacked by pirates. But the Chinese warships, like those of other navies, mostly patrol the narrow Gulf of Aden, not the much larger Indian Ocean.



Reuters

Last Mod: 20 Ekim 2009, 14:43
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