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(LEAD) Crew of hijacked S. Korean freighter confirmed to be safe: foreign ministry
SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- The crew of a South Korean freighter, hijacked in the Arabian Sea on Saturday apparently by Somali pirates, were all confirmed to be safe, an official at Seoul's foreign ministry said Sunday.

   The 11,500-ton chemical freighter, the Samho Jewelry, was en route to Sri Lanka from the United Arab Emirates carrying 21 crew members when it was seized in waters between Oman and India on Saturday.

   "The location of the ship was found and the 21 crew members, including eight South Koreans, were all confirmed to be safe through communications between Samho Shipping Co. and the ship," the official said, requesting not to be named, referring to the name of the freighter's owner.

   "We understand it was Somali pirates that hijacked the ship," the official said. "We're discussing countermeasures together with related government offices."

  
South Korean destroyer Choi Young (Yonhap file photo)



Meanwhile, South Korea's 4,500-ton destroyer Choi Young, which belongs to the Cheonghae Unit, was in the process of moving toward the hijacked freighter, according to government sources in Seoul.

   "The Choi Young has begun to sail toward the Samho Jewelry and is expected to reach waters near the hijacked ship in two days," said a government official.

   The Cheonghae Unit, with some 300 troops and a destroyer, has been in charge of patrolling the pirate-infested waters off Somalia, since its deployment in early 2009 under a U.S.-led multinational campaign. Named after a 9th-century Korean naval base, the unit comprises a destroyer, a Lynx helicopter and special maritime forces.

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