In a daring raid at dawn in the Arabian Sea, South Korean commandos on Friday boarded a hijacked ship, killed or captured 13 Somali pirates and freed all 21 hostages aboard, according to news reports.
As the commandos boarded the ship, the pirates fought back with AK assault rifles and anti-tank missiles aimed at the supporting Korean naval destroyer. The Koreans provided covering fire from a Lynx helicopter, said the Associated Press.
After a five-hour battle, all 21 hostages were rescued alive. The captain of the hijacked freighter was wounded in the fray. Eight of the pirates were killed. Five were captured, AP reported.
Piracy news from JOC:
Pirates Took Record Number of Hostages in 2010 .
Pirates on Jan. 15 hijacked the South Korean-operated 11,500-ton chemical cargo freighter Samho Jewelry en route from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka. Among the crew were eight Koreans, 11 citizens of Myanmar and two Indonesians, according to a report from Korea JoongAng Daily.
The AP reported a pirate shot the South Korean captain of the Samho Jewelry during the raid. A U.S. helicopter transported him to a nearby country for treatment. The wound is not life-threatening, according to Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-ho.
The raid was the first by the navy vessel, which has been deployed in the Gulf of Aden to help fight piracy since 2009.
In November, Samho Shipping paid $9.5 million to ransom the supertanker Samho Dream and its 24 crew after seven months of captivity.
Under a White House "Executive Order concerning Somalia," issued April 13, 2010, the U.S. has instituted a policy against paying ransom.
In 2009, U.S. navy snipers shot three pirates who were holding an American captain hostage in a lifeboat after they had abandoned a larger ship, the Maersk Alabama.
-- Contact Thomas L. Gallagher at email@example.com.