Link between Somalian pirates, Pak terror groups under scanner

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Security agencies are probing anypossible link between Somalian pirates and Pakistan-basedterror groups.

Somalian pirates were now operating eastwards from theircountry and moving towards India and posed a threat to allmerchant vessels passing through the high seas between Indiaand the Maldives, Indian Coast Guard Director General ViceAdmiral Anil Chopra said here.

"When piracy is (happening) so close to India, there wouldbe speculation about any such linkages (between them andPakistan-based groups). Intelligence agencies areinvestigating all those captured to establish if there is anyconnection between them," he told reporters.

The ICG chief was asked if the security agencies had foundany link between pirates apprehended near Lakshadweep andterror groups operating from Pakistan.

Last month also, the ICG had apprehended a boat with 15Pakistanis and five Iranians. The 15 pirates apprehended fromLakshadweep on January 28 are also being interrogated forthese suspected links by agencies in Mumbai.

Due to increased presence of navies from around the worldin the Gulf Of Aden, Chopra said pirates have extended theirarea of operation and have started moving eastwards.

"The only place from Africa in that direction is Indiaand the most western part of India is Lakshadweep. They don''tpose any threat to India in particular but against allmerchant ships of all nations," he added.

The ICG chief said to thwart any piracy attempts, theCoast Guard along with the Navy has launched the OperationIsland Watch along the Lakshadweep Islands.

As part of these operations last week, a Naval Fast AttackCraft (FAC) sunk a pirate mothership named ''Prantalay'' 75miles off Lakshadweep saving the 20-member crew of thehijacked vessel on-board and arrested 15 pirates from it.

In the recent past, activities of pirates aroundLakshadweep have increased and they were also successful inhijacking a Bangladeshi-flagged merchant vessel about 90nautical miles off Kochi and 80 nautical miles off Minicoy.

As part of its efforts to counter piracy and enhancecoastal security, a Coast Guard district headquarters wascommissioned in Kavaratti along with a station in Minicoy,both in the Lakshadweep Islands, last month.

Due to this spurt in pirate activity, the Navy haddeployed its warships along with Coast Guard vessels in thecentral Arabian sea.

India has also been deploying its frigates and destroyersin the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 and maintains itspresence in the troubled waters since then.

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