SEOUL, January 21, 2011 (AFP) – South Korean navy commandos Friday stormed a ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, rescuing all the 21 crew and killing eight pirates, military officials said. The SEAL special forces boarded the South Korean ship before dawn, freeing all the hostages and killing the pirates in cabin-to-cabin battles, they said. Five others were captured.
“This operation demonstrated our government’s strong will that we won’t tolerate illegal activities by pirates any more,” Lieutenant-General Lee Sung-Ho of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a news briefing.
The South Korean skipper of the chemical freighter suffered a gunshot wound to his stomach during the raid but his condition is not life-threatening, the military said. No commandos were hurt.
The rescue about 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) off northeast Somalia was seen as a major morale boost for the South’s military.
It was strongly criticised for a perceived weak response to North Korea’s shelling of a border island last November.
President Lee Myung-Bak, who authorised the operation, said the military carried out the raid perfectly under difficult circumstances. “We will not tolerate any activities