NATO warships free Indian vessels held by pirates

Last Updated: Monday, January 9, 2012 - 21:06

Brussels: NATO warships have freed Iranian and
Indian vessels held by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa,
rescuing five Iranian, nine Pakistani and 20 Indian crew
members, NATO said on Monday.

The NATO operation came days after the US navy saved 13
Iranian fishermen who were held hostage by pirates for weeks
in the Arabian Sea, a rescue welcomed by Tehran amid
heightened tensions with Washington.

On Saturday, a Danish warship freed five Iranians and nine
Pakistanis off the Somali coast after intercepting an Iranian
dhow used by pirates as a mothership from which to launch
attacks, the alliance said in a statement.

The pirates tried to escape to the Somali coast but
stopped when Danish navy snipers fired warning shots. A search
team, backed by a helicopter, then found the 14 crew members
and 25 suspected pirates.

The crew members were not injured and "were given access
to phone calls so they could give their relatives the good
news of their release," a NATO statement said. The dhow was
then able to continue its original voyage.

The suspects have been detained aboard HDMS Absalon
pending an investigation to decided if they can be prosecuted
and a decision will be made "in the next few days," the
statement said.

The other rescue took place on Friday, when a US warship,
the USS Carney, intercepted the Indian-flagged dhow Al-Qashmi
off the southwestern coast of Oman.

The 20 Indian crew members were freed and the nine pirates
put on a fast boat carried by the dhow and given sufficient
fuel, provisions and water to return to Somalia.

PTI



First Published: Monday, January 9, 2012 - 21:06

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