Indian Navy foils Somali pirates` attack; 16 held

Navy captured 16 Somali pirates and rescued 16 hostages by foiling the attack on a merchant ship.

Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 00:10 AM IST

Mumbai: Indian Navy has rescued 16 crew
members - 12 Iranians and four Pakistanis - of a hijacked
vessel after three-hour-long operation against the Somali
pirates who were trying to capture another ship, an official
spokesperson said.

The Navy has also apprehended 16 pirates after
battling them west of the Lakshadweep Islands.

This was the second pirate attack thwarted by the Navy
and Coast guard in the Arabian sea in a fortnight. They have
been maintaining surveillance off the Lakshadweep islands over
the several months as part of `Operation Island Watch`.

"INS Suvarna yesterday intercepted a pirate mother
vessel called Morteza, an Iranian trawler hijacked by the
pirates off the Lakshadweep. Morteza has been used as the
mother vessel by the pirates. After nearly three hours of
operation, 16 crew members, 12 of whom were Iranians and
remaining Pakistanis, were rescued and 16 Somalian pirates
were apprehended," Defence spokesperson captain M Nambiar

The operation began when a maritime reconnaissance
aircraft TU142 on patrol located Morteza, while responding to
a distress call received at the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination
Centre(MRCC) at 11 am from a merchant ship MV Maersk
Kensington, Nambiar added.

The aircraft facilitated INS Survarna, patrolling in
the area, to intercept the pirate vessel. The Coast Guard ship
ICGS Sangram was also diverted for the operation.

Seeing the aircraft and the Naval vessel, the pirates
immediately attempted to escape from the area, he said.

Several warnings by INS Suvarna to stop the pirates
vessel failed. The pirates even opened fire on the Naval ship
following which Naval guards fired at them in defence, the
captain said.

"The firing by the Navy resulted in pirates vessel
catching fire prompting the pirates and the hostages to jump
into the waters."

The Naval ship quickly rescued the hostages and also
launched a Life Raft for pirates. ICGS Sangram also joined the
rescue operation. The entire operation lasted for at least
three hours.

"It is not yet clear when the Iranian trawler was
hijacked. The hostages and the pirates are being brought to
Mumbai in INS Suvarna and will be handed over to police for
further action," the spokesperson said.

On March 13, the Indian Navy had foiled pirates`
attack and apprehended a pirate mother ship rescuing 13 crew
members and caught 61 Somali sea brigands about 600 nautical
miles off the western coast in the Arabian Sea.