| GEO World|
| Chinese boat, crew released by Somali pirates|
| Updated at: 2054 PST, Sunday, February 08, 2009|
BEIJING: A Chinese fishing boat and its 24 member crew held by Somali pirates for three months was released Sunday, China's foreign affairs ministry said.
The ship, the Tianyu No 8, which was captured on November 14, was released at 0900 GMT, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.
The ministry credited Chinese diplomats in Kenya and Ethiopia with helping secure the release, but gave no further details.
It said the crew, which included 15 mainland Chinese and one Taiwanese sailor, were in the care of the Chinese navy and were undergoing health checks.
The ministry did not give the nationalities of the other eight crew members, but previous media reports had said there were four Vietnamese, three Filipinos and one Japanese on board.
The pirates had previously claimed they seized the Tianjin-based vessel 30 miles (48 kilometres) off Somalia's southern port of Kismayu because it was fishing in Somali territorial waters. They said the crew would be "put before the law and punished accordingly."