• Sunday, April 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Indian Navy rescues 23 Pakistani crew from hijacked fishing vessel

The vessel, Al-Kambar 786, was southwest of the Yemeni island of Socotra on March 28 when it was reported to have been boarded by pirates

Based on the inputs on a potential piracy incident onboard the Iranian Fishing Vessel ‘Al Kamar 786’ late evening on 28 March, two Indian Naval ships, mission deployed in the Arabian Sea for maritime security operations were diverted to intercept the hijacked fishing vessel. (ANI Photo)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE Indian Navy has freed an Iranian fishing vessel that was hijacked by pirates and rescued its crew of 23 Pakistani nationals, following “intense coercive tactical measures” as part of an anti-piracy operation at sea that lasted for more than 12 hours, officials said.

Following Friday’s (29) operation, specialist teams from the Navy undertook a thorough sanitisation and seaworthiness check of the fishing vessel in order to escort it to a safe area for resuming normal fishing activities, according to an official statement shared by a Navy spokesperson.

The Navy said late on Friday evening that it was engaged in an operation to free the fishing vessel from pirates. Nine armed pirates had reportedly boarded the vessel.

The hijacked vessel was intercepted on Thursday (28), the Navy said.

“INS Sumedha intercepted FV ‘Al Kambar’ during early hours of Friday and was joined subsequently by the guided missile frigate INS Trishul,” it said.

“After more than 12 hours of intense coercive tactical measures as per the SOPs, the pirates on board the hijacked fishing vessel were forced to surrender. The crew, comprising 23 Pakistani nationals, have been safely rescued.”

The fishing vessel was approximately 90 nautical miles southwest of Socotra when the pirates reportedly boarded it, it said.

The Indian Navy said it remains committed to ensuring maritime security in the region and the safety of seafarers, “irrespective of the nationalities”.

The Socotra Archipelago is in the northwest Indian Ocean near the Gulf of Aden.

The Navy will take “affirmative action” to ensure a safer and more secure Indian Ocean Region, its chief, Admiral R Hari Kumar, told a press conference on March 23 while citing the anti-piracy and other maritime security operations undertaken by the naval force in the preceding 100 days under “Op Sankalp”.

As part of the maritime security operations, the Navy has undertaken anti-piracy, anti-missiles and anti-drones operations. A total of 110 lives — 45 Indians and 65 foreign nationals — were saved during “Op Sankalp” in that 100-day period, according to a presentation given by a naval officer before the Navy chief’s press conference.

It was also mentioned in the presentation that from November last year till March, “more than 90 maritime incidents have happened”, including 57 drone or missile attacks or sightings and 39 incidents of piracy, hijacking and suspicious approaches.

Taking advantage of Western forces’ focus on protecting shipping from attacks in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi militants, pirates have made or attempted more than 20 hijackings since November, driving up insurance and security costs and adding to a crisis for global shipping companies.

(Agencies)

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