Govt taking steps to protect vessels from pirates

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New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) Against the backdrop of Somalipirates capturing 14 more Indians in yet another strike, thegovernment today said it is taking all possible steps toensure secure maritime movements of vessels including help ofthe Navy for escort.

"The government is serious on the issue and is taking allpossible measures for the safety of Indian vessels," ShippingSecretary K Mohandas told PTI.

He said Indian Naval vessels along with navies of othercountries are patrolling the hijack prone maritime areas andproviding escort to the vessels.

His comments came even as the fate of the 14 Indianscaptured off the Oman coast by Somali pirates along with theirGujarat-registered dhow (slow moving vessel) five days backremained unknown.

Mohandas said there was no trace of the vessel so far butefforts were being made to locate it.

In yet another strike in the high seas, Somali piratescaptured the Indian vessel MSV Al-Musa on January 9 when itwas on its way to Salalah in Oman from Dubai.

Last year, the Somali pirates carried out severalstrikes, capturing 11 dhows with over 120 Indians on board.

However, they later released majority of the vessels afterpayment of ransom.

Asked about the number of Indians under the captivity ofpirates, Mohandas said as per information from various sourcesthe number could be 50.

Repeated attacks on Indian vessels had prompted thegovernment to issue warning to dhows about the dangers inthose waters, particularly along the sea-lanes of Salalah andMale.

The merchandise conducted on seas is worth about USD110 billion annually, with Indians being among the majorplayers.

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