12 Vietnamese sailors on hijacked ship return home after 19 months

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Twelve Vietnamese sailors on a Taiwanese fishing boat who were captured and released by Somali pirates after nearly 19 months in captivity returned to Vietnam on Tuesday.

The crew members of Taiwan-registered FV Shiuh Fu No. 1 were welcomed at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport by their families, relatives and dozens of local reporters.

The sailors were reported to be in good health.

The Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry in a July 18 statement on its website said the crew was freed by Chinese Naval ships patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters.

It gave no further details about the rescue.

The Taiwan-registered boat was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia on December 25, 2010. Thirteen Chinese and a Taiwanese made up the rest of the crew.

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The 12 Vietnamese are natives of Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said it had assisted in ransom talks between the boat's owner and the pirates, though it too did not say whether a ransom was paid. It also thanked China for its assistance.

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