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South Korea Rescues North Korean Ship Near Somalia

By VOA News
04 May 2009

South Korean naval forces have rescued a North Korean vessel from pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The South Korean military says a destroyer in the Gulf of Aden dispatched a helicopter after the North Korean ship radioed for help early Monday.

Officials say pirates who were approaching the North Korean ship retreated when the helicopter crew threatened to open fire.

The military says the North Korean ship later radioed a "thank you" message.

The incident was a rare example of cooperation between the two Koreas, who technically remain at war more than five decades after the end of the Korean War.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials say a Russian warship has freed eight Iranians who Somali pirates had held captive for almost three months.

Initial reports were sketchy but indicated the Iranians were on a Somali pirate vessel the Russian navy captured last week.

Russia and South Korea are among about a dozen nations conducting anti-piracy patrols near Somalia.

The pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the last 18 months, sometimes receiving more than a million dollars for a ship's relase.

On Sunday, the U.S. Navy transferred command of an international naval task force in the area to Turkey. Turkey becomes the second nation to lead the force, established in January of this year.

Russian news agencies Monday quoted President Dmitri Medvedev as saying world powers should think about creating an international court to deal with the problem of piracy.

In some cases, international forces have captured pirates on the high seas only to release them because of uncertainty where they could be prosecuted.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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