Link between Somalian pirates, Pak terror groups under scanner



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.

PTI