Anchor: Two South Koreans and 14 other nationals are being held by Houthi rebels after three vessels they were aboard were seized off the coast of Yemen. While South Korean anti-piracy forces are on their way to the scene, Houthi leaders said they will release the South Koreans and the vessels if they receive confirmation of their nationality.
Kim Bum-soo has more.
Report: According to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, South Korean and Saudi tugboats were hijacked by armed assailants while towing a dredger off the coast of Yemen’s Kamaran Island on Sunday local time.
A total of 16 people, including the two Koreans, were aboard the vessels, which are now being detained at the port of Salif in Yemen's Al Hudaydah Governorate.
The tugboats were transporting the South Korean barge from Saudi Arabia to Somalia. The rebel group claims the vessels trespassed into its territorial waters.
Sources said a South Korean skipper told his company about the situation via a mobile communication device shortly after the vessels were taken.
Houthi leaders are said to have informed the South Korean government that they will release the South Koreans and their vessels if their nationalities are confirmed.
The South Korean anti-piracy Cheonghae unit, which was operating in the Gulf of Oman, was dispatched to the region on Monday. The naval destroyer Gang Gam-chan is expected to arrive at the scene on or around Thursday.
The naval unit’s accomplishments include the successful 2011 rescue of all 21 crew members aboard the South Korean freighter Samho Jewelry which was hijacked by Somali pirates.
A Foreign Ministry official said the Gang Gam-chan will respond as needed to the current situation.
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.