Malaysia navy frees hijacked tanker

Navy commandos overcome Somali pirates on board a chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden, rescuing 23 crew members.

    The reach of pirates has extended more than 800km off the Somali coast in recent years [AFP]

    Malaysian Navy commandos have rescued a chemical tanker hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden just hours after the ship was seized.

    The commandos injured three pirates, captured seven, and rescued 23 crew members on board the MT Bunga Laurel on Friday morning.

    The armed pirates stormed the ship on Thursday night, and the crew responded by locking themselves in a safe room and activating a distress signal, which was picked up by the navy.

    The commandos exchanged gunfire with the pirates before overcoming them, the navy said in a statement on Friday.

    Possible charges

    According to the New Straits Times newspaper, the Bunga Laurel was carrying oil worth $10m.

    The newspaper also said that a Fennec attack helicopter had pinned down the pirates' "mothership" with machine gun fire as the commandoes boarded the Laurel.

    Najib Razak, the prime minister, said he was informed of the situation and that the authorities were considering whether the pirates should be brought to Malaysia to face trial.

    "I am proud of our [navy], which acted with full efficiency and demonstrated courage,'' he told a news conference.

    The Bunga Laurel rescue came on the same day that South Korea staged a similar effort, freeing 21 crew members and killing eight pirates from a freighter in the Arabian Sea that had been hijacked last week.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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