A Chinese cargo ship with 25 crew members aboard was heading for a safe port after being released by pirates off the coast of Somalia, the European Union naval force in the region said Monday.
"The crew and the ship are in good condition and are now heading to a safe port," EUNAVFOR said in a statement after the bulk carrier Dexinhai was released Sunday, AFP reports.
The report, which quoted Chinese Marine Search and Rescue Center, however, did not confirm the pirates' claims that $4 million had been paid as ransom.
De Xin Hai, the hijacked vessel, is now under protection of Chinese naval escort fleet. The fleet will escort the ship to a safe sea area and ensure its safe return to China. The ship belongs to Qingdao Ocean Shipping Co., Ltd, RTTNews informs.
According to DigitalJournal.com, late last year, after a ship carrying oil to China was attacked by pirates, China sent three warships into Somali waters. Like warships from Great Britain, India, Iran, the U.S., France and other countries operating anti-piracy patrols in the area, the Chinese ships provide protection mainly in the narrow, pirate-infested Gulf of Aden and not in the much larger, and difficult to police, Indian Ocean.
It is believed that China may, in the future, be more willing to use military force against the Somalia-based pirates. The Chinese bulk carrier was carrying about 76,000 tonnes of coal from South Africa to India when it was attacked.
EU NAVFOR says that 8 hijacked ships and 213 hostages are still hostages of the pirates.