Coast Guard warns of 3 groups of Somali pirates in Arabian sea

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Mumbai, Feb 10 (PTI) The Indian Coast Guard today saidthat at least three groups of Somali pirates are currentlyoperating in the Arabian sea though not in the Indian waters.

The Coast Guard today handed over 28 pirates, who wereapprehended off the Lakshwadeep Islands on February 6, to theMumbai police. They are all Somalis and would be produced inthe court here tomorrow.

"As per the information available, it is estimated thatthree piracy attack groups are still active close to IndianEEZ (Exclusive Economic Zones)", said SPS Basra, InspectorGeneral of Coast Guard, here.

Basra said merchant vessels have been advised to keepaway from the affected areas. "In all, there were fivegroups -- two of them have been apprehended," added Basra.

The pirates who were handed over to the Mumbai policetoday had been intercepted by the ships of Coast Guard and theIndian Navy after they attacked a Greek-flagged merchant ShipM V Chios'' on Sunday, 100 nautical miles west off KavarattiIslands. Twenty-four abducted crew-members of a Thai vesselwere rescued in the operation.

A Coast Guard official said pirates had held these crewmembers hostage for more than nine months on board Pantralay11'' which was hijacked in April last year. The pirates killedone of the crew members to terrorise others.

The Joint Anti-Piracy operation ''Operation Island Watch''in which Navy and Coast Guard ships patrol the seas offLakshadweep and Minicoy islands round the clock, willcontinue, said Basra. .

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