Fresh pirate attack on freed vessel, India rushes warship (Second Lead)

June 15th, 2011 - 11:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) A fresh piracy attempt was made Wednesday on an Egyptian merchant ship with six Indians among its 22-man crew, a day after it was freed by Somali pirates who held it for 10 months. India has rushed a warship to escort the MV Suez to Salalah in Oman.

The attack by the sea brigands in the morning failed. The Indian government, which had maintained a studied silence on the threat to the cargo ship and its crew in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, in the evening rushed a Godavari-class frigate to escort it to safe waters.

Some family members of the Indian crew on board MV Suez said the ship came under a fresh pirate attack early Wednesday morning and that the Indian government had done nothing to provide security to the ship.

They also noted that a Pakistani warship, the frigate PNS Babar, was heading for the coordinates of MV Suez to escort it to Salalah.

The government, through the day, continued to hold that the responsibility for the cargo vessel’s safety was that of its owners. In the evening, however, the government changed its position.

“Yes, there was a piracy attempt in the morning, but it failed,” government sources said here.

“We have rushed a Godavari-class frigate this evening to escort the cargo vessel till Salalah,” they said. The ship is likely to enter Salalah by Friday morning.

In the day, the government sources had maintained: “MV Suez, which was released by pirates on June 13 is proceeding safely to Salalah. The ship is carrying a crew of 22 persons, of which six are Indian nationals.”

The ship was sailing towards Salalah at a speed of 12 knots, the sources added.

Earlier this month, the government sources said, the Indian Navy had recommended that on the release of MV Suez, the owners provide a tug for technical support and an armed “Vessel Protection Detachment” be embarked on the ship to counter any threats.

“This is the international norm in all such cases,” the sources said.

To provide a measure of assurance to the crew of MV Suez, the Indian Navy is actively coordinating with other navies to monitor the situation during the passage to Salalah, the sources said.

The 22 crew and the merchant vessel were released by the pirates after a ransom of $2.1 million was facilitated by Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney, Sampa Arya, wife of Ravinder Gulia, 30, one of the hostages and resident of Haryana’s Rohtak town, had said Tuesday in Chandigarh.

MV Suez was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden Aug 2, 2010. The six Indian crew members are likely to reach home later this month.

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