India’s navy rescues two hijacked boats, frees its Pakistani crew

Pakistani crew
  • British military warns of two pirate groups in Indian Ocean

NEW DELHI: India’s naval forces rescued an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel hijacked by Somali pirates and freed its 19-member Pakistani crew off the east coast of Somalia, Associated Press reported on Tuesday quoting a statement by Indian navy.

Later that day, another statement said that it also rescued a Sri Lankan fishing vessel, together with forces from Seychelles and Sri Lanka.

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The Iranian vessel Al Naeemi was rescued late Monday after the Indian navy intercepted the vessel, forcing 11 Somali pirates to release the crew and boat. It didn’t immediately say what happened to the hijackers, but it posted images showing 10 pirates with their hands tied behind them and armed Indian naval troops guarding them. Another image showed some armed pirates on the vessel.

The piracy occurred in international waters about 850 nautical miles (1,570 kilometers) west of the Indian coastal city of Kochi.

The navy said in a separate statement it rescued the Sri Lankan vessel, Lorenzo Putha 04, after three pirates hijacked it 955 nautical miles (1770 kilometers) east of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. It called the operation a “coordinated multilateral response to the hijacking” but did not elaborate on who the pirates were.

This came a day after India’s forces freed another Iranian fishing vessel named Iman and its 17 crew members in the same waters. On Saturday, the Seychelles’ defense forces and coast guard rescued six Sri Lankan fishermen whose vessel had been hijacked by Somali pirates.

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The British Military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations on Tuesday said there are reports of two pirate groups operating in the Indian Ocean, with one near the South of Socotra, Yemen. It said both groups could include “a mothership and a number of small crafts.” It also advised vessels to “transit with caution” and report suspicious activity.

The Indian navy has ramped up its deployment by sending three guided missile destroyers and reconnaissance aircraft to the vast Indian Ocean amid disruptions in global shipping due to attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels in the Red Sea since November.

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