BEIJING  - All 28 crew on a Chinese cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Oman, not far off southern Iran, have been rescued, state media said Saturday, citing China’s embassy in Tehran.
The pirates attacked the vessel early Friday near the Iranian port of Chabahar, and the crew were rescued later the same day, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The report did not give details of the rescue operation, but Xinhua said earlier that the Iranian navy had located the ship, named the Xianghuamen, and that an Iranian warship was in the area.
The navy and Tehran’s foreign ministry had pledged to save the stricken vessel after Chinese officials called for “all necessary measures to fully rescue the ship and crew,” the news agency reported.
The ship was registered in Panama, and belongs to Nanjing Ocean Shipping in eastern China, according to Xinhua.
The waters of the Arabian Sea, at the northern tip of the Indian Ocean, have seen hundreds of pirate attacks in recent years, with Chinese shipping vessels routinely targeted.
China has also been heavily involved in anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, and in international waters near the Gulf of Oman. About 85 percent of China’s oil imports are routed via the Gulf of Aden and through the Indian Ocean, making the region extremely important for Chinese trade.
Since 2008, China has sent 10 escort missions and more than 8,000 military personnel to the Gulf of Aden, escorting more than 4,300 vessels in the process, state-run China Daily said last year.
In June last year, a Chinese shipping vessel and a crew of 29 were released by pirates after being held captive for 207 days.