GULF OF EDEN: Malaysian navy commandoes thwarted an attempt by Somali pirates to hijack a Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC) tanker early Thursday.
Sources said the commandoes on board the Royal Malaysian Navy's Bunga Mas 5 were on a routine escort mission of MISC's chemical-laden MT Bunga Laurel and another LPG carrier out of the dangerous gulf waters enroute to Singapore.
But hours out of the danger zone, when the RMN would cease their escort, the pirates struck.
At least seven pirates began attacking the MT Bunga Laurel firing their assault rifles and machine guns when trying to board the vessel.
The crew of MT Bunga Laurel activited the alarm and the commandoes, which were about 30km away, reacted immediately by dispatching a helicopter to the scene.
The sources said the commandoes boarded the tanker and subdued the pirates.
They said the swift action saved the 20-odd Malaysian crew and the vessel. At least three pirates were injured in the shoot out with the commandoes.
In another incident, South Korean navy commandos stormed a ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on Friday.
All 21 crew were saved and eight pirates killed.
The hijacking came two months after another Korean supertanker was released by Somali pirates after being held for seven months.
Piracy has surged off lawless Somalia in recent years. Pirates are currently holding 29 vessels and about 700 hostages.