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Indian Navy’s Warship Sumitra rescues Iranian vessel hijacked by pirates

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NEW DELHI : Indian warship INS Sumitra on Monday ensured the safe release of an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel and its 17 crew members after it was hijacked by some pirates off the east coast of Somalia, officials said. The Indian Navy swiftly responded to a distress call from the vessel last night, they said.

“INS Sumitra, deployed on anti-piracy operations along the east coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, responded to a distress message regarding the hijacking of an Iranian flagged fishing vessel Iman,” Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

The fishing vessel had been boarded by pirates and the crew members were taken as hostages, he said.

“INS Sumitra intercepted the vessel, acted in accordance with the established SOPs (standard operating procedures) to coerce the pirates for the safe release of the crew along with the boat and ensured the successful release of all 17 crew members along with the boat,” Madhwal said.

The vessel was subsequently sanitised and released for onward transit.

“Mission deployed Indian naval ships on anti-piracy and maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean region symbolises the Indian Navy’s resolve towards the safety of all vessels and seafarers at sea,” Madhwal said.

The response by the Indian Navy to the fresh incident came two days after its warship INS Visakhapatnam extinguished a fire onboard a commercial oil tanker with 22 Indian crew when the vessel was struck by a missile in the Gulf of Aden.

The Indian Navy deployed its missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam to assist the vessel after receiving a distress call from it on Friday night.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) had said the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel MV Marlin Luanda was hit by an anti-ship ballistic missile fired by Iran-backed Houthi militants.

The Navy on January 5 thwarted an attempted hijacking of Liberian-flagged vessel MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea and rescued all its crew members.

Liberian-flagged vessel MV Chem Pluto, with 21 Indian crew members, was the target of a drone attack off India’s west coast on December 23.

Besides MV Chem Pluto, another commercial oil tanker that was on the way to India came under a suspected drone strike in the Southern Red Sea on the same day. The vessel had a team of 25 Indian crew.

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