22 Jan 2011

Cargo ship retaken by Sth Korean Navy

7:27 am on 22 January 2011

South Korean commandos have stormed a cargo ship which had been seized by pirates in the Arabian Sea.

All 21 crew members were rescued. The Navy says eight pirates were killed in the operation. Another five were captured.

The raid took place about 1300km off the coast of Somalia.

South Korea is part of a multi-national anti-piracy patrol in the area. The BBC reports it dispatched a warship after the vessel was seized on Saturday.

The 11,500-tonne Samho Jewelry was carrying chemicals from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka when it was hijacked in the waters between Oman and India.

Earlier in the week, President Lee Myung-Bak told the navy to take "all possible measures" to free those aboard - eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 Burmese.

The destroyer Choi Young pursued the ship for nearly a week.

The Choi Young moved in when some of the pirates left the Samho Jewelry, apparently to attack a Mongolian ship nearby.

The BBC reports commandos boarded the ship while a smaller boat and a helicopter were sent to rescue to Mongolian vessel.

In a televised statement after the mission, President Lee Myung-bak said the military had "carried out the operation perfectly under difficult circumstances".

The Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somalia, is one of the world's busiest shipping routes.

Last year, Somali pirates received a record ransom of $US9.5 million after seizing another ship owned by Samho Shipping.

The Samho Dream supertanker was hijacked in the Indian Ocean in April.