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Pirates Warn South Korean Warship to Stay Back

An undated photo of the 300,000-ton South Korean tanker Samho Dream at sea released in Seoul 05 Apr 2010

Somali pirates have warned a South Korean warship to stay back from a hijacked oil tanker with 24 sailors on board.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the pirates issued the warning through the tanker's captain, who talked to people in South Korea by phone.

The ministry says all crew members of the ship are safe but that their lives will be in danger if a South Korean destroyer tracking the tanker moves any closer.

The ship, the Samho Dream, is now anchored several kilometers off the coast of Somalia.

The crew includes five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos. The tanker is carrying some 2 million barrels of oil worth at least $170 million.

Somali pirates seized the ship in the Indian Ocean on Sunday. It is one of 17 vessels the pirates have hijacked since the beginning of March.

The South Korean destroyer monitoring the hijacked ship had been posted to the area as part of international anti-piracy forces.

The forces have stopped numerous attacks but are unable to effectively monitor the vast areas in which the pirates operate.

Wednesday, EU naval spokesman Commander John Harbour said a Turkish ship with 25 crew members on board was seized by pirates off the coast of Kenya. He says all crew members are believed to be Turkish.

Somalia's deputy prime minister, Abdulrahman Adan Ibrahim Ibbi, urged donor nations Wednesday to provide Somalia's transitional government with a well-equipped coast guard to fight piracy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters