India navy rescues 19 Pakistani sailors from Somali pirates

The rescues come amid a resurgence of Somali piracy in the Indian Ocean since last month following years without a major attack

By Reuters

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Indian commandos stand guard with a group of detained pirates after the Indian Navy freed an Iranian fishing vessel hijacked by Somali pirates, off the Somali coast, some 850 nautical miles (1,574 kilometres) west of the Indian city of Kochi. — AFP
Indian commandos stand guard with a group of detained pirates after the Indian Navy freed an Iranian fishing vessel hijacked by Somali pirates, off the Somali coast, some 850 nautical miles (1,574 kilometres) west of the Indian city of Kochi. — AFP

Published: Tue 30 Jan 2024, 2:21 PM

The Indian navy rescued two Iranian fishing vessels that had been hijacked by Somali pirates in one day, India's defence ministry said on Tuesday.

The INS Sumitra patrol vessel rescued 17 Iranian crew members aboard one boat early on Monday before responding to another distress call to free 19 Pakistani nationals on another, the ministry said in a statement.

The rescues came amid a resurgence of Somali piracy in the Indian Ocean since last month following years without a major attack.

The pirates appear to be taking advantage of instability around the Red Sea, where the Iranian-backed Houthi militia has targeted civilian ships in what they say is a protest against Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthis' attacks have prompted retaliatory air strikes by countries including the United States and Britain, and analysts say they have diverted attention from the Somali piracy threat.

Somali piracy peaked around 2011, costing the world economy some $7 billion a year, before international naval patrols and armed private guards managed to contain the threat.

Until December, when the Maltese-flagged MV Ruen was seized, there head been no successful hijacking of a merchant ship by Somali pirates since 2017.

India's navy has intervened in response to several recent hijackings.

On Monday, the INS Sumitra rescued the Iman fishing vessel by using "coercive posturing" before intercepting the Al Naeemi fishing vessel, which had been boarded by 11 pirates in the southern Arabian Sea, the defence ministry said.

Forces from the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of the Seychelles rescued the six crew members on a Sri Lankan fishing trawler from suspected Somali pirates on Monday, officials said.


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