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India captures 61 Somali pirates

Monday, March 14, 2011

Laaska News March 14,2011           Warkan Soomaali

The Indian navy has captured 61 suspected Somali pirates and rescued 13 fishermen after a firefight with a hijacked mothership in the Arabian Sea, a navy spokesman said.

“A total of 74 men have been apprehended, of which 61 are suspected to be Somali pirates,” Indian navy spokesman PVS Satish said, adding that the incident took place on Saturday night within Indian waters.

A total of 13 fishermen on board the mothership, a Mozambique-flagged fishing boat, were rescued after the firefight 1,100 kilometres from the west coast of India.

The Vega 5 fishing boat was hijacked in December last year and was being used as a base for the pirates, who were found with small arms, as well as rocket-propelled grenades and fuel drums.

A statement from the navy said its fast-attack craft, the INS Kalpeni, directed “limited” fire on the vessel after being shot at.

The detained pirates will be formally arrested by the Indian Coastguard and jointly interrogated by local police.

Last month, India warned of an increased threat to shipping off its south-west coast, as Somali pirates hunt targets beyond African waters to evade the clutches of an international naval force.

There has been a rise in pirate attacks on merchant vessels within Indian waters and shipping has been warned to steer clear of danger areas, according to the coastguard.

A separate group of 15 suspected pirates – 12 Somalis, two Ethiopians and a Kenyan – face trial in India on charges including attempted murder after they were caught in January.

Last week, the Indian government said they were working on a new tough law to tackle piracy and find ways to negotiate with pirates for the release of Indian sailors.

At least 53 Indians on five ships are being held by Somali pirates, according to a statement read by foreign minister SM Krishna during the parliament proceedings.

“The government will take all appropriate action to safeguard the welfare of the Indian sailors,” he said, adding this would include diplomatic efforts at the multilateral level and with the United Nations.