- Associated Press - Sunday, January 23, 2011

SEOUL (AP) — South Korea released a video Sunday of a dramatic raid by commandos on a hijacked ship in the Arabian Sea that rescued all 21 crew members and killed eight Somali pirates.

The 4½-minute video provided by the military shows parts of the pre-dawn raid Friday, which came a week after pirates seized the cargo ship and its crew of eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 Myanmar citizens.

The video shows South Korean commandos in a small boat readying to climb onto the freighter amid gunshots. The commandos are then seen trying to enter a door and then bringing out some hostages, with a navy helicopter shining searchlights on the vessel.

Later, several captured Somali pirates are shown kneeling on the ship as South Korean soldiers carrying rifles stand nearby. The video, taken by a nearby South Korean destroyer, shows the 1,500-ton chemical carrier Samho Jewelry pockmarked with bullet holes.

None of the crew members was injured except for the captain, who was shot in the stomach by a pirate, but his condition is not life-threatening, according to South Korea’s military.

In November, a South Korean-operated supertanker and its 24 crew — five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos — were freed after seven months of captivity amid reports that a record ransom of up to $9.5 million had been paid to Somali pirates.

Friday’s raid was a triumph for South Korea’s president and military. Both came under harsh criticism at home for being too slow and weak in their response to a North Korean attack in November on a South Korean island near disputed waters that killed two marines and two civilians.

The rescue came on the same day that Malaysia’s navy successfully rescued a chemical tanker and its 23 crew members from Somali pirates. Seven pirates were apprehended.

Despite the two recent successful raids, the European Union Naval Force has said it will not follow suit because such raids could further endanger hostages.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, during which time piracy has flourished off its coast.

There are now 29 vessels and 703 hostages being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia. The country lies next to one of the world’s most important shipping routes, which connects the Indian Ocean to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea beyond.

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