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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 12:35 GMT
Somali pirates free Taiwan ship
The suspect vessel ignored orders from the Churchill

One of four Taiwanese fishing boats hijacked last year off the Somalia coast has been set free, Taiwan's government says.

The release comes as a merchant ship believed to be registered in the United Arab Emirates has been hijacked.

There have been numerous attacks by pirates off Somalia, in some of the most dangerous waters in the world.

The US Navy said last week it had captured suspected pirates and seized arms from a ship off the Somali coast.

"Under the rescue efforts by related government units and ship owners, Chung Yi 218 has safely set sail from Somali waters and was on its way home," Taiwan's Fisheries Administration said in a statement.

The Chung Yi 218 and two other ships were seized separately on 16 August 2005.

A fourth ship, the Feng Rong, was hijacked in November.

"The crews on the other three ships are safe and we will continue the rescue efforts," the Taiwanese statement said.

New hijacking

The weekly piracy report from the International Maritime Board (IMB) said that a merchant ship believed to be registered in the UAE was seized by pirates on Sunday.

"They fired warning shots and threatened the 20 crew members," the report said.

"They are demanding a ransom for the release of the crew and ship."

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