Somali pirates links with terror groups being interrogated

New Delhi, Jan 31 (ANI): In the wake of increased pirate attacks on merchant vessels passing through the sea lanes close to the Indian coast, Indian security agencies are probing the suspected terror links of the captured Somali pirates.

Commenting on the recent arrest of Somali pirates by the Indian Navy personnel, Coast Guard Director General Vice Admiral Anil Chopra on Monday said that investigations are still on to ascertain whether they are linked to any international militant outfit.

"I must tell you that when we catch people, our first attempt is to see that if there is a need to establish a link between these people which we have captured and terrorists, the process of investigation specially international investigation takes a very long time as you have seen from many other cases. So at the moment the intelligence agencies are still investigating all the people who were captured," Vice Admiral Chopra told reporters on the eve of the 34th anniversary of the Indian Coast Guard.

"It is not done by Coast Guard or Navy, it is done by the various organisations of the government intelligence agencies and police organisations to try and establish if there is a connection between these two or not. From our side we always worry about it and that is what we do," he added.

Vice Admiral Chopra noted that over the past one year, the Somali pirates have shifted their activities closer to the Indian territorial waters, and added that they pose no threat to India, as the country's coastal defence set up is fully geared up to check any possible security threat.

The Vice Admiral, however, observed that tackling a hijacked ship demands delicate strategy since the life of the ship's crew is at stake.

"The piracy attacks pose no threats to India. The piracy is against merchant ships of all nations this must be understood. The pirates are attacking merchant ships of all nations whom they can find. The aim of the pirate is to make money. He wants to hijack the ship take it to Somalia and then ask for the ransom for the crew and the ship," said Vice Admiral Chopra.

"It becomes very difficult for the authorities like Navy or the Coast Guard. Once the hijacking has taken place then if you try and do anything they will kill all the people. It has to be done very deliberately," he added.

Vice Admiral Chopra further said that sea piracy has become a major problem not only for India, but the entire world.

"This is a big-big problem and as you are aware it is being handled by United Nations and International Maritime Organisation and it is not the question of Somalian pirates only. In Singapore, we have regional centre against piracy and Indian Cost Guard is a member of that," said Vice Admiral Chopra.

"There is a meeting held every year. So, piracy on the high seas is the issue but the pirates will normally tend to operate either very close to their homes in Somalia or in the middle of the ocean where they cannot be caught. So in that way it is a free world, in high seas anybody can go anywhere, it can come within 75 miles and he will be caught if he tries to do something," he added.

The 15 Somali and Ethiopian pirates apprehended by the Indian Navy after a gun battle off the Lakshadweep coast, while trying to loot a foreign merchant vessel were on Monday placed under arrest.

It has been reported that the pirates have been booked under various sections of IPC, including 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 307 (attempt to murder) and 363 (kidnapping), besides the Passport Act. (ANI)

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