HARGEISA, 4 February 2010 (Somalilandpress) – A shoot-out erupted Thursday between pirates who seized a North Korean-flagged, Libyan-owned ship and coast guards in Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region, leaving one soldier dead, police said.

It was not clear what sparked the gunfight near Lasqorey, a coastal village which lies in area disputed by the Horn of Africa’s northern self-declared states of Somaliland and Puntland.

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“Pirates holding the cargo ship opened fire on our coast guards… They exchanged fire while heading to Lasqorey,” Abdirisak Yusuf Aseyr, a Somaliland regional police chief, told AFP by phone.

Local elders said the pirates later anchored the cargo vessel off Lasqorey.

“It’s about 10 kilometres (six miles) away from the coast now and there are about 30 of them (pirates) onboard the ship,” said Mohamed Adan Dualeh, an elder.

The MV RIM, a general cargo vessel, was captured Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden north of the internationally recommended transit corridor.

The 4,800-tonne cargo ship owned by White Sea Shipping of Libya was not registered with the Horn of Africa Maritime Security Centre, the European Union Naval Force (NAVFOR) said.

Source: AFP