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Indian Navy foils attempts by Somali pirates to hijack ships

New Delhi: The Indian Navy has foiled attempts by a group of Somali pirates to hijack ships in the high seas off the east coast of Somalia as it intercepted their vessel, officials said on Saturday.

The armed pirates had sailed out on board a cargo ship named Ruen that was hijacked around three months ago, they said.

“The ex-MV Ruen, which had been hijacked by Somali pirates on 14 December, was reported to have sailed out as a pirate ship towards conducting acts of piracy on high seas,” the Navy said.

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The vessel was intercepted by an Indian Navy warship on March 15, it said.

The Navy said the pirates opened fire on the Indian warship, which took appropriate actions in self-defence as per international law and to counter piracy and used minimal force to neutralise the pirates’ threat to shipping and seafarers.

“The pirates onboard the vessel have been called upon to surrender and release the vessel and any civilians they may be holding against their will,” the Navy said in a statement.

“The Indian Navy remains committed to maritime security and safety of seafarers in the region,” it added.

On Friday, the Navy said an Indian warship and a long-range maritime patrol aircraft extended assistance to a Bangladeshi-flagged cargo vessel after it was hijacked.

It said the safety of the crew held hostage by the armed pirates was ascertained and the Indian Navy warship continued to maintain its presence in close vicinity of the vessel till its arrival in the territorial waters of Somalia.

In the last few weeks, the Indian Navy has extended assistance to a number of merchant vessels in the Western Indian Ocean following attacks on them.

The Indian Navy, earlier this month, foiled a piracy attempt on an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel having a crew of 11 Iranian and eight Pakistani nationals along the east coast of Somalia.

In January, Indian warship INS Sumitra rescued 19 Pakistani crew of an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel after it was attacked by pirates off the east coast of Somalia.

The Navy on January 5 thwarted an attempted hijacking of the Liberian-flagged vessel MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea and rescued all its crew members.

Liberian-flagged vessel MV Chem Pluto, with 21 Indian crew members, was the target of a drone attack off India’s west coast on December 23.

The Navy has already enhanced the deployment of its frontline ships and surveillance aircraft for maritime security operations in view of the maritime environment in the critical sea lanes, including in the North and Central Arabian Sea.

There have been mounting global concerns over Houthi militants launching a series of attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea in the last few months.

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