Indian Navy captures 61 Somali pirates

March 14th, 2011 - 9:36 pm ICT by BNO News  

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BNO NEWS) — The Indian Navy on Monday announced its capture of 61 Somali pirates and their hijacked mother ship after a violent gun battle in the Arabian Sea.

The Indian Navy said that they were also able to rescue 13 crew members and seized about 80 to 90 small arms/rifles, as well as a few heavier weapons, most likely RPGs, following the operation, which took place Saturday night at around 9 p.m. local time.

On December 28, 2010, Somali pirates had hijacked Mozambique-flagged vessel Vega 5, which had been used as a base for several pirate attacks during the past four months between east Africa and India. The Indian Navy’s INS Kalpeni, however, intercepted the mother vessel during the weekend in the Arabian sea about 600 nautical miles west of India.

On Friday, a Naval Dornier while responding to a call from MV Vancouver Bridge under pirate attack located Vega 5, and upon arrival, the pirates immediately aborted their piracy attempt and tried to escape from the area.

As IN Maritime Patrol Aircraft continuously tracked the pirate mother vessel, Indian Naval anti-piracy patrol ships Khukri (a missile corvette) and Kalpeni (a Water Jet Fast Attack Craft) were ordered to intercept and investigate Vega 5.

On Saturday, the INS Kalpeni closed in on Vega 5, and in the darkness, the pirate mother vessel launched two skiffs which fired at Kalpeni. INS Kalpeni responded with limited firing, but a subsequent fire had broken out on Vega 5, as mother vessels are known to carry additional fuel drums to fuel the skiffs. A number of pirates were then seen jumping overboard.

As of February, pirates have taken a total of 30 ships and more than 660 hostages.

In recent years, Somali pirates have hijacked hundreds of ships, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom. Ships are patrolling the shipping lanes near Somalia in an effort to reduce hijackings, but the anti-piracy force has warned that attacks are likely to continue.

According to a recent study, maritime piracy cost the global economy up to $12 billion last year, with Somalia-based pirates responsible for 95 percent of the costs.

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