Karela Fry

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Piracy today

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BBC reports:

More than 20 pirates have been captured and some two dozen hostages rescued from a hijacked Thai fishing trawler in the Indian Ocean, the Indian defence ministry has said.

The capture followed an operation launched by the navy and coast-guard off India’s south-western coast.

It is the second such success for the Indian navy in a week.

Pirates, mainly from Somalia, are active in the Indian Ocean, launching a number of attacks in recent years.

The operation began on Saturday evening when the Indian navy received information that a Greek merchant ship had been attacked by pirates on board high-speed boats, although it had managed to avoid capture.

Two vessels from the Indian navy and coast-guard located the pirates’ boats on Sunday morning and followed them back to a hijacked Thai fishing trawler, the Prantalay 11.

The Canadian Press adds:

The navy rescued 24 crew members from the Prantalay-11, which the pirates had seized and were using as a mother vessel at various locations in the Arabian Sea, he said.

The vessel was captured in Sunday’s operation and the pirates were being taken to Mumbai for questioning, he said.

It was the second anti-piracy operation by the Indian navy in the region in less than two weeks.

On Jan. 28, the Indian navy intercepted another Thai fishing boat, the Prantalay, which had been used by Somali pirates as a mother vessel since April last year.

The navy arrested 15 pirates after an exchange of gunfire. It rescued 20 fishermen from Thailand and Myanmar who were the original crew of the fishing vessel and were being held hostage.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the vessels seized in the past two weeks were part of the Prantalay family of ships, several of which have been hijacked by pirates in the past six months.

The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and is a prime target for Somali pirates.

Indian warships have been escorting merchant ships as part of anti-piracy surveillance in the area since 2008.

This particular incident was interesting in itself, as a report from Mumbai Mirror says:

The pirates, riding high-speed skiffs, started firing at the Coast Guard believing it to be a potential target, but were neutralised by a joint team of Indian Navy and Coast Guard after high drama. They are now being brought to Mumbai to be formally arrested.

According to sources, frigate INS Tir of Indian Navy and CGS Samar of the Coast Guard were on an anti-piracy patrol off the Kochi coast on Saturday when, at around 4 pm, the Western Naval Command received information from a merchant ship that it was under attack.

The Greek-flagged ship, MV Chios, informed the Navy that it was being chased by pirates riding high-speed skiffs about 100 nautical miles west of the Kavaratti islands in Lakshadweep.

The Navy and Coast Guard immediately dispatched Samar and Tir to locate the skiffs and intercept the pirates.

The capture of pirates raises other problems: even getting translators is not straightforward. In addition, the judicial system has to adapt to new circumstances, as the Hindu reports:

The 15 Somali, Ethiopian and Kenyan pirates taken into custody off the Lakshadweep coast have been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Passports Act by the police here.

“An offence has been registered at the Yellow Gate Police Station and the Coast Guard is the complainant,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Rajnish Seth told TheHindu.

The rescued hostages are in Kochi and not brought here. “They need medical attention, so they are in Kochi,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Port Zone, Khalid Kaisar, said.

Of the 15 pirates, one is a Kenyan and one an Ethiopian. “We are verifying whether the rest of them are Somalis as they don’t have any documents with them.”

They were arrested for violating Indian laws and for acting against Indians. “We have recovered the abducted people, but they are not Indians. So we cannot book them here for that crime,” he said.

The pirates were booked for firing on the Indian Navy and for not abiding by its orders in the Indian waters.

“The incident happened in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone. We have slapped sections relating to unlawful assembly, not abiding by the orders of the Navy, carrying deadly weapons, and not dispersing the unlawful assembly despite orders,” Mr. Kaisar said.

The pirates were booked under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 353 (not abiding by the orders of the Navy), 143, 145, 147, 148, and 149 of the IPC, read with Section 14 of the Passports Act.

Interesting new international alliances are emerging in the western Indian Ocean where the Indian Navy is joined in action over the last few days by South Korea, USA and Iran.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 7, 2011 at 4:05 am

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