Mumbai, Feb 6 (PTI) In the second major anti-piracyoperation off Lakshadweep in 10 days, the Indian Navy and theCoast Guard today apprehended 52 men including 28 suspectedSomali pirates on board a ship after a brief gun-battle nearthe islands.
The forces foiled a pirate plan to attack aGreek-flagged merchant ship and apprehended Prantalay-11, thesister vessel of fishing trawler Prantalay-14 that was alsobeing used as the mother ship by the sea brigands and was sunkby the Navy in the Arabian Sea earlier.
"Naval ship INS Tir and Coast Guard ship ICGS Samarintercepted the pirates'' mother ship Prantalay-11 withinIndian waters after a gun-battle and forced the brigands tosurrender. A total of 52 men have been apprehended of which 28are suspected to be Somali pirates," Navy spokesperson CaptainM Nambiar said.
Officials said the operation had started last eveningwhen the Navy learnt that MV Chios was being attacked by twopirate skiffs some 100 kms off the Kavaratti island.
After receiving the input, Navy''s western command heredirected the INS Tir and the ICGS Samar, who are alreadydeployed in the region for anti-piracy operations, to rush tothe site and apprehend the pirates and their mother ship, theysaid.
"After locating the skiffs, the two ships asked thepirates to surrender but they fired back at us and fled totheir mother ship. After the two ships tracked the mothervessel, they were fired upon again by the pirates," they said.
"The Tir and the Samar returned fire briefly afterwhich the pirates raised white flags to surrender," they said.
The pirates and the crew of the Prantalay 11 have nowbeen brought to Mumbai for interrogation by police andintelligence agencies.
The agencies will also probe if the apprehendedpirates have any links with Pakistan-based terror groups suchas Lashkar-e-Toiba.
The pirate ship apprehended today is part of thePrantalay family of ships which are distinguished from oneanother by their suffix numbers. Several of these trawlers areknown to have been hijacked by pirates off the coast ofSomalia, between four and six months ago.
After the recent spurt in piracy incidents, IndianNavy and the Coast Guard have maintained increased presence inthe central Arabian Sea to nab Somali pirates who have startedmoving towards the country.
India has been deploying its frigates and destroyersin the Gulf of Aden as part of anti-piracy efforts sinceNovember 2008.