Somali pirates release Taiwanese fishing boat with 12 Vietnamese sailors onboard

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Somali pirates released Tuesday a Taiwanese fishing boat with 26 crew members, 12 of them Vietnamese, after nearly 19 months in captivity though it is not known if a ransom was paid.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday on its website that the crew of FV Shiuh Fu No. 1 was freed by Chinese Navy ships patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters.

They will be taken to Tanzania before returning home.

It gave no further details about the rescue.

The boat was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia in December 2010. Thirteen Chinese and a Taiwanese make up the rest of the crew.

The 12 Vietnamese hail from the central provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh.

The Chinese ministry has asked the country's embassy in Tanzania to provide accommodation and medical care to the released men.

China also notified Vietnam of the rescue.

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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.

Chinese ships have undertaken anti-piracy operations off Somalia since late 2008. In early 2010 Beijing agreed to join a multinational effort to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden and nearby stretches of the Indian Ocean.

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