Malaysian chopper foils pirate attack on Indian tanker

January 1st, 2009 - 7:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 1 (DPA) A Malaysian helicopter Thursday foiled an attempt by a group of armed pirates to board an Indian oil tanker in the troubled Gulf of Aden off Somalia’s coast.In the year’s first reported pirate attack, armed bandits in two speedboats approached the Indian-managed tanker around 9 a.m. and began firing machine-guns, said Noel Choong, head of the anti-piracy International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The pirates made several attempts to board the ship when Malaysian helicopter Fennec responded to the captain’s emergency call and headed for the troubled vessel, he said.

The arrival of the chopper prompted the pirates, who were dressed in military-style uniforms, to flee the scene, said Choong.

While none of the crew members was injured, the oil tanker sustained damage from the gunfire.

Choong said the incident brings the total number of pirate attacks in Somali waters to 112, with 42 vessels having been hijacked.

A total of 14 ships remain held by pirates, while over 214 crew members are being held hostage, he said.

The Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest waterways, remains a hotspot for pirate activities despite increased calls for joint security patrols in the troubled waters.

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