TEHRAN, April 6 (Xinhua) -- All 28 Chinese crew members aboard a China-linked cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates were rescued on Friday, the Chinese embassy in Tehran said.
The cargo ship, Xianghuamen, was hijacked by Somali pirates at about 8:40 a.m. local time (0410 GMT) on Friday in the Sea of Oman near Iran's southern port of Chabahar.
The Sea of Oman is connected to the Gulf in the west by the Strait of Hormuz, one of the crucial waterways in the world for shipping crude oil.
The vessel, registered in Panama, belongs to Nanjing Ocean Shipping company in eastern China.
The cargo ship, setting off from Shanghai, made a stopover in Singapore to unload some goods and then headed for Imam Khomeini port in southwestern Iran when it was hijacked.
Nine Somali pirates climbed onto the cargo ship by their own ladders, fired shots on the ship and seized the Chinese crew members on board.
Two Iranian naval warships participating in the rescue operation followed the vessel and ordered the pirates to surrender. The pirates later threw their weapons into the sea and surrendered to the Iranian navy.
The hijacked cargo ship's engine was damaged and is in repair. Later the ship will head for the Iranian port of Gask, 70 miles ( about 112 km) away from where the hijacking occurred and 200 miles (about 322 km) away from the vessel's destination.
After the hijacking, the Chinese embassy in Tehran started emergency procedures and contacted related Iranian governmental departments, urging the Iranian side to take all necessary measures and spare no efforts to rescue the crew members and ensure their safety.
Yu Hongyang, the Chinese ambassador, requested Iran to put the safety of the hijacked crew members as the first priority, adding that the Chinese government, State Council and Foreign Ministry all expressed grave concerns about the incident.