India defends anti-piracy action in Gulf of Aden

November 26th, 2008 - 11:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 26 (IANS) India Wednesday expressed condolences at the loss of lives in an anti-piracy action in the Gulf of Aden last week, but vigorously defended the action saying it was in accordance with international law.”I would like to express deep condolences for the loss of lives,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a press conference with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi here.

The Indian Navy’s stealth frigate INS Tabar, which has been patrolling the piracy-infested Gulf of Aden since Nov 2, sank a pirate vessel last week, winning accolades worldwide.

However, the incident took a curious turn after a Thai company Tuesday said the alleged pirate “mother vessel” was its fishing trawler hijacked off Yemen coast Nov 18 morning.

“It must be kept in mind that the trawler was under the command of pirates,” Mukherjee said.

“As for international law and practice, if pirates don’t surrender and if ship or vessel is sunk, it (sinking the ship) is perfectly within international law.”

Mukherjee said immense suffering had become a regular feature of operations on sea-lanes.

The international community should take concerted action against piracy, the external affairs minister replied when asked if India would offer compensation for the sunk ship.

Thailand had sought a clarification from the Indian Navy on its rules of engagement in sinking the alleged pirate ship.

Thai national Wicharn Sirichaiekawat says the sunken vessel was a trawler Ekawat Nava 5, registered in Kiribati, an island nation in the South Pacific, and it was owned by him.

According to Wicharn, the ship had a crew of 16 on board, including one Cambodian and 15 Thais, when it was attacked. He said the ship was travelling from Oman to Yemen to deliver fishing equipment when it was first attacked by pirates and then by the Indian Navy frigate.

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