- in a rare and bold raid on Somali pirates, South Korea said.
The military operation in waters between Oman and Africa, which also captured five pirates and left one crew member wounded, came a week after the Somali attackers seized the South Korean freighter and held hostage eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 citizens from Myanmar.
- "We will not tolerate any behavior that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in a brief televised statement, adding that the rescue was a "perfect operation."
The successful raid is a triumph for Lee, whose government suffered harsh criticism at home in the weeks following a North Korean attack in November on a South Korean island near disputed waters. Critics said Lee's military was too slow and weak in its response to the attack, which killed two marines and two civilians.
With a South Korean destroyer and a Lynx helicopter providing covering fire, South Korea's special navy forces stormed the hijacked vessel in a pre-dawn rescue operation that left eight of the pirates dead and five captured, Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-ho told reporters.
The 11,500-ton chemical carrier Samho Jewelry was sailing from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka when it was hijacked. It was the second vessel from South Korea-based Samho Shipping to be hijacked in the past several months.
In November, Somali pirates freed the supertanker Samho Dream and its 24 crew — five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos —
- after seven months of captivity....
The Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet referred all questions to South Korea, although it said the U.S. Navy
- was aware of the event.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. Piracy has flourished off its coast, sometimes yielding multimillion-dollar ransoms. The ransoms the pirates get are among the few regular sources of income for small businesses that supply the pirates with food and other goods."...