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Terrorism & Security

Somali pirates lose battle to South Korean commandos, but who's winning war?

South Korean commandos rescued a 21-man crew from Somali pirates. The renegade gangs captured more hostages in 2010 than in any other year on record, and 22 incidents have already taken place in 2011.

By Correspondent / January 21, 2011

South Korean naval special forces approach the South Korean cargo ship Samho Jewelry in a military operation in the Arabian Sea on Friday, Jan. 21. In the daring and rare raid, South Korean special forces stormed the hijacked freighter, rescuing all 21 crew members and killing eight Somali pirates, South Korea said.

South Korean navy via Yonhap/AP


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South Korean commandos battled Somali pirates today on the Arabian Sea, storming a captured cargo ship and rescuing the 21-man crew. The mission was a boon to an embattled South Korean president and a rare setback for the pirates amid a surge in attacks.

Pirates had captured the South Korea-owned Samho Jewelry on Jan. 15 while it was traveling between Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates nearly 800 miles from the coast of Somalia. After following the ship for days, a South Korean Navy destroyer dispatched a special forces unit to rescue the crew.

Eight alleged pirates were killed in the rare rescue mission, and the Korean boat captain sustained noncritical injuries.

“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, in an article by The Guardian. “During the operation, our forces killed some Somali pirates and all of the hostages were confirmed alive.”

The successful rescue operation comes as good news particularly for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has suffered criticism for not taking a hard enough response against North Korea after it shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November. Comments today suggest that he may hope this aggressive move will improve his image.

“This operation demonstrated our government's strong will that we won't tolerate illegal activities by pirates any more,” said President Lee in an article by the Yonhap News Agency. “Our military carried out the operation perfectly under difficult circumstances. I appreciate it and send a message of encouragement.”

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