61 pirates seized in Arabian Sea
Published 15/03/2011 | 12:21
India has seized 61 pirates after a naval gunfight in the Arabian Sea.
The operation is one of the most successful since Somalian pirates escalated their campaign of extortion and kidnap on the Indian Ocean two years ago.
The Indian authorities have yet to disclose the nationality of the suspects but they are believed to be from either Somalia or Yemen.
They were arrested after an Indian naval ship closed in on a hijacked fishing vessel just under 700 miles off the Kerala coastal port of Cochin.
The boat was carrying 61 suspected pirates and 13 of the boat's crew who had been held captive.
The suspected pirates had hijacked the boat, the Mozambique-flagged Vega 5 in December last year and had since used it as a base for attacks on other ships.
They were finally caught on Sunday after they opened fire on the approaching Indian naval ship. They were forced to jump overboard when their own vessel was set ablaze caught fire in fierce retaliatory fire from the Indian ship. The 13 original crew members were freed in the raid. Indian officials said they found 80 to 90 small arms or rifles and some heavy weapons on the fishing vessel.
The number of pirate attacks and the scale of their demands has increased singnificantly in recent months. More than 660 people are currently believed to be held hostage in pirates from raids on 30 ships.
India has intensified its operations against pirates in the Indian Ocean. It arrested 28 pirates last month and 15 in January.