Indian commandos rescue crew of ship hijacked in Arabian Sea


Saturday, 6 January 2024 (12:39 IST)
The Indian Navy on Friday said it was responding to the attempted hijacking by pirates of a Liberian-flagged cargo vessel in the Arabian Sea, some 460 nautical miles off the Somali coast.

The 21 crew members on the ship, of which 15 were Indians, were rescued by Indian commandos who boarded the vessel earlier on Friday, the Navy said.

Five or six armed individuals had boarded the ship on Thursday.

"The attempt of hijacking by the pirates was probably abandoned with the forceful warning by the Indian Navy, marine patrol aircraft, of interception by an Indian Naval warship," the Indian Navy said.

India deployed several ships to the waters last month and the effort to seize the vessel is only the latest in a series of attacks on commercial vessels in the region.
What we know so far

A statement from the Indian Navy said it had "responded swiftly to a maritime incident in the Arabian Sea involving a hijacking attempt" of the bulk carrier ship.

It said the INS Chennai — a stealth-guided missile destroyer — had been sent to the scene.

While the navy did not identify the vessel, media reports say it was the MV Lila Norfolk, and about 15 Indian crew members are believed to be aboard the ship.

The ship raised the alert with a message on the portal of the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, an organization that monitors merchant shipping, on Thursday evening.

The Indian naval statement said five to six unknown armed personnel had boarded the vessel.

Naval officials did not specify whether hijackers were currently in control of the ship, although an overhead patrol flight had verified that the crew appeared safe on Friday morning.
Increased danger on busy routes

India's bolstering of anti-piracy efforts comes after Somali pirates hijacked the bulk carrier MV Ruen in December.

The navy said earlier this week that it had investigated a large number of fishing vessels in the North and Central Arabian Sea, and that it had boarded some vessels deemed to be "of interest."

"India plays the role of a net security provider in the entire Indian Ocean region. We will ensure that maritime trade in this region rises from the sea to the heights of the sky," Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said last month.

The reemergence of Somali piracy comes as Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen target commercial ships in the Red Sea, disrupting traffic headed for the Suez Canal.

Attacks by Somali pirates on vessels were at a peak between 2010 and 2015, but they have declined drastically since, amid patrols by US and other allied naval forces.

However, experts say that the increased attention given to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea has diverted US-led anti-piracy efforts, encouraging pirates to renew their attacks. (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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