S. Korean forces rescue hijacked ship

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- South Korean troops stormed a hijacked ship in the Arabian Sea Friday, freeing all 21 crew members and killing eight Somali pirates, officials in Seoul said.

The captain of the hijacked vessel, the Samho Jewelry, sustained a gunshot wound to his abdomen but his condition was not life-threatening, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said.


Military officials said five pirates were captured.

Lee praised the special forces operation to rescue the South Korean-owned ship, saying it was executed under "difficult circumstances," Yonhap reported.

The operation ended a top-secret mission that had the Choi Young, a South Korean destroyer carrying 300 special troops, pursuing the 11,500-ton freighter, the South Korean news agency said.

"This operation demonstrated our government's strong will [and] that we won't tolerate illegal activities by pirates anymore," Lee said.

South Korea, part of a multinational anti-piracy patrol, dispatched the warship after the Samho Jewelry was seized Saturday. The vessel was carrying chemicals from the United Arab Emirates when it was hijacked between Oman and India.

The rescue mission was described by Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-ho of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as "a perfect military operation," the BBC reported.


"Pirates sought to take the vessel to the Somali coast fast but the skipper helped us earn time by maneuvering the vessel in a serpentine manner," the military official said. "This operation demonstrated our government's strong will to never negotiate with pirates."

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