Mistaken for pirates, 2 Indian fishermen shot dead

Two Indian fishermen were killed after security detail onboard an Italian merchant vessel fired at them off Kollam coast yesterday evening, suspecting them to be pirates.

Updated: Feb 16, 2012, 12:26 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Kochi: In a tragic development, two Indian fishermen were killed after security detail onboard an Italian merchant vessel fired at them off Kollam coast yesterday evening, suspecting them to be pirates.

The fishermen from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu had put out to sea yesterday morning from Neendakara in Kollam district.

A naval press release said personnel onboard `Enrica Lexie` fired on the fishermen mistaking them for pirates and that the vessel informed authorities about the incident. There were around 10-12 fishermen in the fishing vessel at the time of the incident.

The Coast Guard then launched two ships `Sumar` and `Lakshmi Bai` and an aircraft to trace the ship, located it and asked it to anchor off Kochi for a detailed investigation.

The Kerala cabinet today decided to give Rs 5 lakh compensation each to the next of kin of the two fishermen shot dead.

State Fisheries Minister K Babu told a news agency that it remained to be seen how the issue was settled as an Italian ship was involved.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has asked the home department to register a case and do all the necessary procedures as it involves a foreign vessel.

The Italian ship is currently anchored 14 kilometres from the Kochi coast. Police and other officials are currently on their way to the ship, Thursday; to ascertain further details about the incident, following which future course of action would be charted out by Indian authorities.