Sat, Jan 22, 2011 - Page 5 News List

South Korean navy storms hijacked ship

AFP, SEOUL

Members of the South Korean naval special forces guard the hijacked cargo ship Samho Jewelry 1,300km off northeast Somalia yesterday.

Photo: EPA

South Korean navy commandos stormed a ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean yesterday, rescuing all the crew and killing eight pirates, military officials said.

“Our special forces stormed the hijacked Samho Jewelry earlier today and freed all hostages,” said Colonel Lee Bung-woo, a spokesman for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“During the operation, our forces killed some Somali pirates and all of the hostages were confirmed alive,” Lee told reporters.

Another Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said eight pirates were killed.

The rescue took place about 1,300km off northeast Somalia, Lee said.

The South Korean skipper of the chemical freighter suffered a gunshot wound to his stomach during the raid, but his condition is not life-threatening, Lee said.

The pirates seized the ship and 21 crew members — eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 Burmese — last Saturday in the Arabian Sea.

Seoul ordered a destroyer on patrol in the Gulf of Aden to give chase and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak ordered “all possible measures” to save the crew.

The military said yesterday’s rescue followed a brief gun battle on Tuesday, when the destroyer encountered pirates who had apparently left the South Korean freighter to try to seize a nearby Mongolian vessel. South Korean commandos aboard a speedboat and a Lynx helicopter were dispatched to rescue the ship.

Tuesday’s firefight left several pirates missing and believed killed, although their bodies have not been found, spokesmen said. Three commandos were slightly hurt.

Yesterday, the South Koreans, supported by an Oman naval vessel, stormed the chemical tanker.

Lee Myung-bak praised the troops for the operation, which he described as a complete success.

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