Report: Somali Pirates Release South Korean Ship

SEOUL, South Korea -- Somali pirates freed a hijacked South Korean supertanker and its crew, a South Korean news agency said Saturday.

The Samho Dream is now sailing toward the United States, Yonhap news agency reported, citing Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Program.

All the sailors were safe and healthy, Mwangura said, according to Yonhap.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said it could not immediately confirm the report. It said the release was imminent but the safety of the crew was not secured.

Mwangura said a ransom was paid for the ship's release.

The South Korean shipping company, which operates the Samho Dream, said Saturday it had no comment.

The Samho Dream, loaded with about $160 million in crude oil, was hijacked in the Indian Ocean in April with five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos on board.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. Piracy has flourished off its coast, sometimes yielding multimillion-dollar ransoms.