Chinese Fishing Boats Seized by North Koreans

Posted May 17th, 2012 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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Twenty-nine Chinese fishermen are being held for ransom after being kidnapped by a group of North Koreans earlier this month in the Yellow Sea.

The Beijing News says the fishermen were working in three separate vessels in Chinese waters when they were seized on May 8 by armed North Koreans. The kidnappers took the boats to North Korean territory and demanded a ransom of $190,000, which is due by Thursday.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry says it is in close contact with Pyongyang about the situation, and hopes it will be resolved as soon as possible. Beijing is North Korea's major diplomatic ally and economic benefactor.

Chinese fishing vessels have been involved in several clashes with neighboring authorities in recent years in disputed waters. But it is unclear whether the North Korean gunmen were security forces from the isolated regime.