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Taipei (AFP) July 18, 2012
A Taiwanese fishing boat seized by Somali pirates nearly 19 months ago was freed, and its crew members were taken to safety by a Chinese naval vessel, Taiwan's foreign ministry said Wednesday.
The "Shiuh Fu No 1" was seized with its Taiwanese captain and its crew of 13 Chinese and 12 Vietnamese nationals on December 25, 2010 off Madagascar and was later taken to Somalia.
The crew members were released on Tuesday after the boat owner completed ransom talks with pirates, the ministry said.
The freed hostages could not leave by themselves as their fishing boat had run aground, and instead they were taken to Tanzania by a ship from the Chinese navy, the ministry said.
"We appreciate the assistance of the European Union, international anti-piracy organisations, China and other relevant countries," it said.
China's foreign ministry also confirmed the release of the crew in a statement without elaborating and said it had notified the Vietnamese authorities.
Two decades of lawlessness have carved up Somalia into mini-fiefdoms ruled by gunmen and militia, encouraging rampant piracy.
However, the number of successful pirate attacks off Somalia's coast has fallen recently due to the deployment of foreign combat ships in the zone, according to the EU's Atalanta mission.
21st Century Pirates
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