Link between Somalian pirates, Pak terror groups under scanner

Security agencies are probing any possible link between Somalian pirates and Pakistan-based terror groups.

Updated: Feb 01, 2011, 00:24 AM IST

New Delhi: Security agencies are probing any
possible link between Somalian pirates and Pakistan-based
terror groups.

Somalian pirates were now operating eastwards from their
country and moving towards India and posed a threat to all
merchant vessels passing through the high seas between India
and the Maldives, Indian Coast Guard Director General Vice
Admiral Anil Chopra said here.

"When piracy is (happening) so close to India, there would
be speculation about any such linkages (between them and
Pakistan-based groups). Intelligence agencies are
investigating all those captured to establish if there is any
connection between them," he told reporters.

The ICG chief was asked if the security agencies had found
any link between pirates apprehended near Lakshadweep and
terror groups operating from Pakistan.

Last month also, the ICG had apprehended a boat with 15
Pakistanis and five Iranians. The 15 pirates apprehended from
Lakshadweep on January 28 are also being interrogated for
these suspected links by agencies in Mumbai.

Due to increased presence of navies from around the world
in the Gulf Of Aden, Chopra said pirates have extended their
area of operation and have started moving eastwards.

"The only place from Africa in that direction is India
and the most western part of India is Lakshadweep. They don`t
pose any threat to India in particular but against all
merchant ships of all nations," he added.

The ICG chief said to thwart any piracy attempts, the
Coast Guard along with the Navy has launched the Operation
Island Watch along the Lakshadweep Islands.

As part of these operations last week, a Naval Fast Attack
Craft (FAC) sunk a pirate mothership named `Prantalay` 75
miles off Lakshadweep saving the 20-member crew of the
hijacked vessel on-board and arrested 15 pirates from it.

In the recent past, activities of pirates around
Lakshadweep have increased and they were also successful in
hijacking a Bangladeshi-flagged merchant vessel about 90
nautical miles off Kochi and 80 nautical miles off Minicoy.

As part of its efforts to counter piracy and enhance
coastal security, a Coast Guard district headquarters was
commissioned in Kavaratti along with a station in Minicoy,
both in the Lakshadweep Islands, last month.

Due to this spurt in pirate activity, the Navy had
deployed its warships along with Coast Guard vessels in the
central Arabian sea.

India has also been deploying its frigates and destroyers
in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 and maintains its
presence in the troubled waters since then.