Indian navy frees Iranian fishing boat hijacked off Somalia

Indian navy frees Iranian fishing boat hijacked off Somalia

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Indian Navy spokesman said that the force had freed an Iranian fishing vessel hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia 

Indian Navy said on Monday (Jan 29) that it had freed an Iranian fishing vessel which was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. This happened after the latest attack against shipping in the Indian Ocean. 

As quoted by news agencies, Commander Vivek Madhwal, who is the Indian Navy spokesman, said: “Pirates had boarded the fishing vessel and the crew taken as hostages.” 

Madhwal named the vessel as the Iranian-flagged Iman, and further added that its warship had “ensured the successful release of all 17 crew members along with the boat”. 

The official said that India had deployed its warship INS Sumitra after receiving a distress message from the fishing vessel. 

At that particular time, INS Sumitra was said to be on anti-piracy patrol off the east coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden. 

“INS Sumitra, on anti-piracy operations along the East Coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, responded to a distress message regarding the hijacking of an Iranian-flagged Fishing Vessel Iman. The vessel had been boarded by pirates and the crew was taken as hostages,” Madhwal said.

Without giving an exact location, Madhwal said that the warship “intercepted the vessel” and then worked to “coerce” the hijackers to release the crew and boat. It ensured the successful release of all 17 crew members and the boat, the spokesperson said.

The navy said that the fishing boat was “sanitised and released for onward transit”. It didn’t reveal any details of the operation and also didn’t tell what exactly happened to the pirates. 

“Mission deployed Indian naval ships on anti-piracy and maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean region symbolises the Indian Navy’s resolve towards the safety of all vessels and seafarers at sea,” Madhwal further added. 

Watch: Iranian Navy plans to establish base at South Pole 

In recent weeks, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched scores of attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden targeting Israeli-linked vessels in response to Israel’s war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas. 

International naval forces have been diverted north from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea, sparking fears of resurgent pirates exploiting the gap. , 

This led to the first successful case of Somali piracy since 2017 recorded in December. Pirate attacks off the Somali coast peaked in 2011, but such cases dropped sharply in recent years.

The Sri Lankan navy said that on Saturday that suspected Somali pirates boarded and hijacked the Sri Lankan fishing trawler Lorenzo Putha–4 with six crew, some 840 nautical miles southeast of the Somali capital Mogadishu. 

Last month, Somali pirates hijacked the bulk carrier MV Ruen. The Bulgaria-owned and Malta-flagged vessel was seized by Somali pirates 380 nautical miles east of the Yemeni island of Socotra on December 16. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

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