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article imageSouth Korean raid rescues pirated ship in 'perfect operation'

By Christopher Szabo     Jan 21, 2011 in World
Seoul - South Korean commandos have successfully mounted a rare raid against a hijacked ship, the freighter Samho Jewelry, in which 21 sailors have been rescued, with eight pirates killed and another five captured.
CNN reported the raid was mounted from a South Korean Navy destroyer supported by Lynx naval helicopters at dawn Friday, 21 January. The Korean ship had chased the captured vessel on the Arabian Sea, a favourite haunt of Somali pirates, when the commandos placed a ladder on board and surprised the pirates.
The pirates did shoot back, using AK-47 assault rifles and grenade launchers, but were overpowered by the South Koreans, mentioned in some reports as “special forces.” Lieutenant General Lee Sung-Ho, spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said:
"This mission shows that the South Korean government will not negotiate with pirates."
South Korea’s President Lee Myung-Bak called the attack a “perfect operation,” the Associated Press (AP) said. Lee’s government has been severely criticised after a North Korean attack in November and the earlier sinking of the navy corvette Cheon-An.
Meanwhile, the country’s ministry for foreign affairs is studying how to deal with the captured pirates, the Korea Times reports. The report says under international law, what to do with the captured pirates is the responsibility of the South Korean government.
Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, sovereign nations are allowed to seize ships which have been pirated as well as property on board. A South Korean court may also impose penalties. The report indicated that trying the pirates in South Korea would create a challenge for the government. It is also possible for the South Korean government to simply allow the pirates to go free. However, this would likely be unpopular.
During the five-hour operation, the 57-year-old captain was hit in the abdomen but the injury is not life-threatening.
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