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African coast pirates stopped again

Malaysia's navy was holding seven Somali pirates Saturday who were apprehended in the second dramatic commando raid within hours on ships seized near the African coast, authorities said.

The operations gave both Malaysia and South Korea dramatic successes in the battle against pirates who have long tormented shipping in the waters off the Horn of Africa.

The Royal Malaysian Navy said its commandos wounded three pirates in a gunbattle and rescued the 23 crew members on the Malaysian-flagged chemical tanker MT Bunga Laurel early Friday, shortly after the pirates stormed the vessel in the Gulf of Aden with assault rifles and pistols.

The navy said it sent a ship and a helicopter to the Bunga Laurel, after crew members locked themselves in a safe room and activated a distress call Friday morning.

Elite security forces managed to board the ship and overpower the pirates after an exchange of gunfire, it said. No one in the rescue team or the ship's crew was injured.

The operation came the same day as another stunning raid by South Korean commandos who freed a hijacked freighter, which on Saturday was sailing toward Oman under the escort of a South Korean destroyer, an official said.

The Korean raid killed eight pirates and captured five others, ending the weeklong captivity of 21 crew members, including eight South Koreans., aboard the Samho Jewelry.

The wounded captain of the South Korean freighter, Seok Hae-gyun, was being treated at a hospital in Oman for a gunshot wound in the stomach by a pirate, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

Despite the two successful raids against Somali pirates, the European Union Naval Force said it would not follow suit because such raids could further endanger hostages.

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