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Somali pirates lose battle to South Korean commandos, but who's winning war?

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The successful rescue operation comes as good news particularly for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has suffered criticism for not taking a hard enough response against North Korea after it shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November. Comments today suggest that he may hope this aggressive move will improve his image.

“This operation demonstrated our government's strong will that we won't tolerate illegal activities by pirates any more,” said President Lee in an article by the Yonhap News Agency. “Our military carried out the operation perfectly under difficult circumstances. I appreciate it and send a message of encouragement.”

Somali pirate attacks skyrocket

Somali pirates have increased attacks for the past four years, capturing more hostages in 2010 than in any other year on record, according to a Jan. 17 report from the London-based International Maritime Bureau. The waters off the coast of the lawless nation remain some of the most dangerous in the world. Last year, according to the bureau, 92 percent of all ships captured by pirates were taken off the coast of Somalia.

Key to stopping the surge of piracy on the high seas is stabilizing Somalia, says Capt. Pottengal Mukundan of the bureau's Piracy Reporting Center.

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