SEOUL, South Korea -- At dawn, South Korean special forces packed into a small boat approached a hijacked freighter in the Arabian Sea. Commandos scrambled up a ladder onto the ship, aboard which Somali pirates were armed with AK assault rifles and anti-tank missiles. A South Korean destroyer and hovering Lynx helicopter provided covering fire.
When Friday's operation ended five hours later, 21 hostages had been rescued, eight Somali pirates killed and five assailants captured. Pockmarks from artillery fire blanketed the ship's bridge. One of the hostages was wounded, but all were alive -- a remarkable ending for a risky rescue. Only a handful of rescues in recent years have involved such peril to the crew.