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Indian Navy rescues Pakistani crew from pirates

In its second operation in 36 hours, the INS Sumitra warship thwarted a piracy attempt off the east coast of Somalia

The Indian Navy warship INS Sumitra, deployed in the Gulf of Aden, carried out a second successful anti-piracy operation on Monday, rescuing 19 crewmembers and their vessel from armed Somali pirates, a Navy spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Hours after the Indian patrol ship intercepted a piracy attempt on an Iranian vessel – FV Iman – off the east coast of Somalia, it was again pressed into action to locate and intercept the Iranian-flagged fishing vessel Al Naeemi, after it was boarded by 11 Somali pirates and the crew was taken hostage. The Indian Navy personnel ensured the release of the crew, comprising 19 Pakistani nationals.

The rescue of hijacked vessels “also prevents misuse of fishing vessels as motherships for further acts of piracy on merchant vessels,” the Navy added. Pictures from the rescue mission were posted on X (formerly Twitter), where the pirates can be seen holding assault rifles.

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Monday’s incidents came at a time of heightened tensions in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, with frequent attacks on passing merchant ships by Yemeni Houthi rebels in a show of “solidarity” with Gaza, and a recent spate of piracy.

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The region is vital for global maritime shipping, and major companies have diverted their ships from the route for the “foreseeable future.” In retaliation to the Houthi strikes, the US and UK have launched dozens of attacks on the militant group’s bases in Yemen. The rebels claimed responsibility for a missile attack on the warship USS Lewis B Puller on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, India has ramped up its naval presence in the Arabian Sea region after several ships, including those carrying Indian crews, came under fire off India’s west coast. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh earlier this month vowed to collaborate with partners to “make maritime commerce safe and secure.”

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Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited Iran on January 14-15 to raise “great concern” about attacks on merchant vessels. His Iranian counterpart, Amir-Abdollahian, informed him that Yemen’s Houthi leaders have pledged to only stop ships that are sailing towards the “occupied territories” to deliver arms for the Israel-Palestine war.

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