Dhaka: Bangladesh has launched a massive joint air and naval operation against pirates in the Bay of Bengal, four days after they looted over 100 fishing boats and abducted 50 fishermen, a coast guard official said on Thursday.
"Bangladesh Navy and Coastguard yesterday launched a massive campaign in the remote areas in the Sundarbans and the coastline mobilising their ships and high-speed boats and Air Force helicopters are also set to join the campaign tomorrow," Lieutenant Commander Mamunur Rashid of Coastguard said.
Rashid added the navy and coastguard boats already launched operations scouring the river channels inside the forest and the coastline.
Elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) commanding officer for the southwestern region Manjur Qader Khan said four different pirate gangs jointly launched a simultaneous attack on over 100 fishing boats extracting Hilsha in the sea and took away the seven boats with 50 fishermen onboard.
"Everyday the pirates are calling us demanding the ransom ... They are demanding Taka 3 lakh for each of the hostage fisherman and Taka 5 lakh for each of the boats saying unless the amount is paid ahead of Eid festival (on August 20) they will be killed," local fishermen association president Abdul Mannan told newsmen.
A navy officer in Dhaka said three of their ships were engaged in the joint campaign while two air force helicopters were also set to fly from tomorrow to track down the miscreants.
"The campaign is aimed at not only rescuing the fishermen, but also flushing out pirates from the Sundarbans," he said.