Indian Navy prevents hijack, nabs 23 pirates off Aden (Second Lead) (With images)

December 13th, 2008 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Responding swiftly to a distress call, the Indian Navy Saturday arrested 23 pirates who attempted to hijack an Ethiopian vessel some 160 nautical miles off the Yemini port of Aden, an official here said.The pirates - 12 Somalis and 11 Yemenis - are being held on board the Indian Navy destroyer INS Mysore that has been deployed in the area while the legalities about their disembarkation and prosecution are worked out, a navy spokesman here said.

Giving details of the incident, the spokesman said: “Whilst escorting merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, Mysore received a distress call from the Ethiopian-flagged MV Gibe at about 11 a.m.

“MV Gibe reported that she was under attack by two boats closing her and firing small arms. MV Gibe opened retaliatory fire with small arms that were held onboard the vessel. The position reported by the merchant vessel was 13 nautical miles from Mysore at that time,” the spokesman said.

Mysore immediately altered course to close in on MV Gibe and also launched her integral armed helicopter, the spokesman added.

“On sighting the helicopter and Mysore, the pirate boats disengaged from MV Gibe and attempted escape. Mysore closed the vessels and ordered them to stop.

“The larger boat was a green coloured dhow of 8-10 metres length. It had taken the second smaller boat, a skiff, under its tow. Subsequently, the name of the dhow was identified as ‘Salahaddin’ and its hull number as 758(2),” the spokesman said.

Mysore’s marine commandoes boarded the dhow at 12.30 p.m. and carried out a search. Twenty-three personnel, including 12 Somalis and 11 Yemenis surrendered on boarding, the spokesman said.

“The search of the dhow revealed a substantial cache of arms and equipment, including seven AK-47 and three other automatic rifles; 13 loaded magazines; a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher along with rockets, cartridges and grenades; three outboard motors and a GPS receiver, the spokesman added.

“The personnel, arms, ammunition and equipment have been taken into custody by INS Mysore and will be handed over to appropriate authorities ashore and the ship will return to her patrol-duties,” the spokesman said.

This is the third rescue the Indian Navy has effected since it began anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden early in November.

On Nov 18, the navy earned worldwide accolades after the stealth frigate INS Tabar sank a Somali pirate vessel after coming under attack.

On Nov 8, INS Tabar had, in a daring rescue mission, foiled an attempt by pirates to hijack two ships - an Indian and a Saudi Arabian merchant vessel.

Somali pirates have attempted 95 hijackings this year alone, a 75 percent increase since 2007.

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