BEIJING — All 29 Chinese fishermen kidnapped earlier this month by unidentified armed North Koreans have been freed and are on their way home, Chinese state media said yesterday.
The fishermen were working on three boats which were reportedly captured at sea on May 8 by gunmen believed to be North Koreans.
The Chinese embassy in the North Korean capital Pyongyang was told by the North Korean foreign ministry that the group had been freed and the vessels and crews were going home, the Xinhua news agency said.
On Friday, Xinhua reported that “some” of the detained had already returned to port, while those remaining in North Korean hands were “safe and sound”.
Chinese state media previously reported that the snatched men were fishing in the waters
between China and North Korea when they were seized.
Xinhua said Chinese embassy staff in Pyongyang had been negotiating the release of the fishermen.
Chinese fishermen regularly run into difficulties with the authorities of other countries as they fish in areas that are claimed by both China and its neighbours.
However, so far there has been no indication that the North Korean gunmen were security forces from the isolated country — which counts China as its sole major ally. — AFP