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Indian Navy rescues two boats in one day from Somali pirates

January 30, 2024 at 9:18 am

Image of Indian navy ship [Indian Navy/Wikipedia]

The Indian Navy rescued two Iranian fishing vessels in one day after they had been hijacked by Somali pirates, India’s defence ministry said today. 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, explained the ministry.

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 Houthis in Yemen have targeted civilian ships linked to Israel in what they say is a protest against the apartheid state’s military offensive against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthis’ attacks have prompted retaliatory air strikes by countries including the United States and Britain, and analysts say that they have diverted attention from the Somali piracy threat. That threat peaked around 2011, costing the world economy some $7 billion a year, before international naval patrols and armed private guards managed to contain it.

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Until December, when the Maltese-flagged MV Ruen was seized, there had been no successful hijacking of a merchant ship by Somali pirates since 2017. However, 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, said the defence ministry in New Delhi.

In a related incident, 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, said officials.

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