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Pirates target two tankers near Kerala coastline

Two incidents of piracy were reported in about half-an-hour only a couple of kilometres from the Indian coastline on Saturday.

New Delhi: Two incidents of piracy were reported in about half-an-hour only a couple of kilometres from the Indian coastline on Saturday, with pirates attempting to take over two chemical tankers, the London-based International Maritime Bureau`s Piracy Reporting Centre said.

As per the Centre, the first incident took place at 8.11 am on Saturday, about 15 nautical miles or 28 km west of Kerala Thiruvananthapuram.

The incident report said that the captain on a chemical tanker noticed a white small boat at a distance of three nautical miles from his vessel. "The skiff (small boat) was noticed to increase speed and approach the vessel at high speed," said the report.

The chemical tanker also speeded up, changed its course, raised an alarm and also took "anti-piracy measures". The boat continued to chase the tanker, but stopped after ten minutes.

"The Master reported five to six persons in the boat and also reported noticing some guns in the boat," said the report.

Within half-an-hour, there was another attack reported in the vicinity. At 8.49 am, another chemical tanker reported that it was being chased by a skiff, about 55 km northwest of Thiruvananthapuram.

"The vessel enforced anti-piracy preventive measures and sent an SSAS (Ship Security Alert System) alert. Later a naval helicopter arrived at the location," said the report.

While the incident report did not speculate on the nationalities of the pirates, IMB`s Twitter account noted that "Somali pirates may have reached Indian shores with impunity. Or have they lost their way."

There had been fears that Somali pirates may start operating nearer to the Indian coastline, driven away by the heavy international naval presence on the waters of the Horn of Africa.

Last month, Indian naval chief Nirmal Verma had acknowledged that pirates were shifting their activities to within 500 nautical miles from the Indian shore.

As per IMB statistics, 243 pirate attacks have been reported so far this year. In the first quarter of 2011, three incidents were reported in the Indian Ocean near the Indian coastline.


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