495 Indian sailors held hostage by Somali pirates in 4yrs: Govt



New Delhi: The government on Thursday said 495 Indian sailors were held hostages by the Somali pirates in last four years, and barring 64, all of them have been released safely.

These 64 sailors, who are still to be rescued, were crew members of 6 ships -- MV Iceberg-I, MV Rak Afrikana, MV Suez, MV Asphalt Venture, MV Savina Caylyn, and MV Sinin -- that were high jacked by the pirates in last one year, the Shipping Ministry said in a statement.

It added that all of them have been reported safe. The statement further said that two foreign flag ships -- MV Savina Caylyn, and MV Sinin--, having 26 Indians as crew members, were high jacked this year, in January and February respectively.

Talking about the increasing attacks by the pirates, the statement said none of the Indian ships have got high jacked in last four years, although seven had come under attack by the pirates of the Somalia coast between 2007 to 2011.

It added that 200 Indian seafarers were held hostage on board foreign flag ships during the same period. In addition to this, the pirates managed to capture about 20 Indian MSVs (Motor support vessels) and 295 sailors on board these MSVs in last four years, the statement said, while adding that all of them have got released.

Shipping Minister G K Vasan, after meeting about 6-7 families of the Indian sailors taken hostage, today said that "I share the anxiety and concerns of the family members and we are making all efforts to ensure the safety of Indians and also to expedite their release."

Vasan said his ministry officials are in touch with their counterparts in the Ministry of External Affairs on the issue but refused to elaborate the steps taken by the government.

PTI