Indo-French navies force Somali pirates to release Indian dhow

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New Delhi, July 15 (ANI): Mounting pressure from Indian and French navies forced Somali pirates to release an Indian dhow hijacked in the Gulf of Aden.

Seeing the movement of the Indian and French warships and anticipating a combined operation, the pirates forced the dhow to close the Somali coast and released the dhow at on July 15, escaping in their skiffs, after robbing the crew of all their cash and valuables.

The crew of the dhow thereafter contacted the Indian warship on VHF and sought assistance. Accordingly, the Indian warship closed the dhow and in coordination with the French warship, boarded the dhow to provide relief.

All 14 Indian crew of the vessel were confirmed safe and the Indian warship provided them with food, water and medicines. The dhow is now heading towards Al Mukkalla in Yemen.

These proactive actions taken by the Indian and French naval ships demonstrate the value of combined exercises and operations and reflect the excellent coordination during this operation. This mutual understanding and operational interoperability resulted in the safe release of the Indian dhow and its crew without payment of any ransom.

A European Union anti-piracy force said pirates who hijacked the Indian dhow, MV Nafeya, earlier this week abandoned the ship and left its 14-crew members unharmed. Naval officials said the pirates left the ship about 24 kilometers off the Somali coast.

The Indian dhow was hijacked off Boosaaso, Somalia July 10 by seven pirates armed with RPGs and AK47s. The vessel was hijacked when it was about 10 nautical miles off Boosaaso in Puntland (the semi-autonomous north-eastern region of Somalia) after it had discharged its cargo at the Somali harbour and was proceeding to Dubai.

After the hijacking, the pirates forced the dhow towards Bab el Mandeb and, on July 13, attempted to hijack MV A Elephant, a Liberian oil tanker.

However, a French warship belonging to the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), which was in the vicinity, thwarted the attack.

The French warship shadowed the pirated dhow and, putting the well-practiced standard operating procedures with the Indian Navy into effect, continuously exchanged information with the Indian naval ship on anti-piracy patrol.

Attempts to board the dhow for investigation by the French ship were abandoned when the pirates threatened to kill the 14 crew held hostage on the dhow. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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