Navy rushes warship to Somali coast

Seven Indian sailors are still being held hostage by pirates despite payment of ransom.

New Delhi: With seven Indian sailors still being held hostage by pirates despite payment of ransom, the Navy has placed one of its warships on high alert and sent it from anti-piracy patrol duties in the Gulf of Aden to the Somali coast.

Navy sources said here on Monday that the Talwar-class frigate -- already in the vicinity of the piracy crisis -- was rushed in an offensive posturing and may see some military action to rescue the hostages.

The pirates, who released eight other Indian sailors of cargo ship MV Asphalt Venture held hostage since September last, have reportedly sought to use the seven hostages as lever to seek release of over 120 of their comrades being held in prisons in India after they were captured by the navy in the Indian Ocean in the last six months.

The Navy was, however, unwilling to divulge details of the mandate given to the warship that has positioned itself off the Somali coast with regard to the current hostage crisis.

India`s military move comes at a time when MV Asphalt Venture owners, who have paid an undisclosed amount as ransom, expressed "deep disappointment" over the Somali pirates not keeping their word. They have been appealing to the pirates to release the vessel`s remaining seven Indian sailors as promised when the ransom demand was made.

According to Somalia Report, a news service from the African nation, the pirates were reportedly angry at the USD 3.5 million ransom amount, which was lower than what they expected and were holding the remaining crew members hostage to extract more money.

The Indian Navy has captured 120 Somali pirates during its anti-piracy operations in the waters off the Horn of Africa and Lakshadweep Islands in the last six months. The biggest capture was of 61 Somali pirates last month after a mother ship, Vega 5, was apprehended.

According to latest figures, 53 Indian sailors are being held hostage on five different ships. Of them, 17 have been held for the longest on MT Savina Caylyn, an Italian ship which was seized Feb 8, 2010.


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