Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Whaaa? Koreans repel attack off Somalia

Update 1 (Nov 1 @ 3:34pm)

The Korean papers have now picked up on this story, so I've linked a couple of articles below.

Here is a photo from the Chosun Ilbo's website:

In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, a Navy team climbs aboard a North Korean-flagged vessel to help crewmembers wounded in a battle with pirates off the coast of Somalia on Tuesday. With permission from the North Koreans, the U.S. Navy boarded the ship with a small team of medics, security personnel and an interpreter. /AP

I've been working on other stuff. This is mostly, because of the two other blogs I've got going: Missing Minorities and, my newest, Celebrities Doing Good. For the time being, I plan to keep this one going too.

Anyway, I was scanning the news stories and saw this headline: Gunmen killed as Koreans repel attack off Somalia.

I know that there are pirates out in the waters and my first question was whether it was a North Korean or South Korea ship.

It was a North Korean ship. Guess which country helped? The US.

We'll see if this can help heal the trust rift between the US and North Korea. I mean a lot needs to be done on both sides because both sides have intentionally tweeked the other.

Gunmen killed as Koreans repel attack off Somalia

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Two gunmen died and three crew members were badly wounded in gun battles as North Korean seafarers fought off attackers who raided their cargo ship off Somalia, a maritime official said on Wednesday.

"Six gunmen were also seriously injured in Tuesday's heavy fighting," said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme.

The U.S. Navy said a destroyer, the USS James Williams, arrived on the scene later and took the wounded on board.

Five gunmen were also captured, it said, and were being held in custody on the cargo ship, the Dia Hong Dan. The destroyer was in the area and monitoring the situation, it added.

"It is escorting the cargo ship now," Mwangura told Reuters. "They could be heading for Djibouti, Mombasa or Mogadishu. We will have to see if the attackers face a court of law."

The attempted raid on the Dia Hong Dan, which was carrying sugar and 22 sailors, appeared to have been part of a business dispute and not another case of piracy, Mwangura said.

North Korea's government did not immediately comment.

But South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that South Korean government officials thought the incident might help in the ongoing process to rid the North of nuclear weapons by showing the U.S. was willing to help North Koreans in danger.


"The incident will have a positive impact as a result of the efforts by both the U.S. and North Korea to normalize their diplomatic ties," Yonhap quoted a Foreign Ministry official, who asked to remain anonymous, as saying.

Christopher Hill, chief U.S. envoy to negotiations on the North's nuclear program, was in Beijing on Wednesday for talks with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye-gwan.

Hill told reporters he and Kye-gwan had discussed the incident involving the cargo ship, but gave no other details.

Highlighting the growing risk to shipping off Somalia, the attack on the North Korean vessel followed the hijacking by pirates of a Japanese chemical tanker in the area on Sunday.

The U.S. Navy said coalition naval forces opened fire on the pirates on Tuesday, sinking the speedboats they had used to board the tanker, the Golden Nori.

Attackers are still thought to be on board the Japanese ship, which was flying a Panamanian flag and carrying benzene.

"Her 23 multinational Asian crew members are said to be cool and calm," Mwangura said, citing radio contacts with the vessel.

Suspected Somali pirates are also thought to be holding four other boats: a Comoros-registered cargo ship, a Taiwanese ship and two fishing vessels from Tanzania.

Without central government since 1991, Somalia's waters are among the world's most dangerous, threatening trade and aid supplies, despite calls for international action to police them.

(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Seoul, Stefano Ambrogi in London and Lindsay Beck in Beijing)

More links:
AFP: US navy help for NKorea ship unprecedented: officials
Chosun Ilbo: U.S. Navy Helps N.Korean Ship Fend Off Pirates
JoongAng Daily: U.S. aids hijacked North Koreans

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