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SOURCE: PTI

The Indian Navy foiled a piracy attempt on an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel with a crew of 11 Iranian and eight Pakistani nationals along the east coast of Somalia, in the latest in a series of such rescue missions in the region.

Indian warship INS Sharda came to the rescue of FV Omaril after seven pirates boarded it and took the crew as hostages, officials said on Friday. The warship, deployed for an anti-piracy mission in the region, was diverted to intercept the boat after the Indian Navy’s remotely piloted aircraft, undertaking surveillance in the area, successfully located FV Omari, they said.

The Navy received the information about the piracy incident late on January 31.

“FV Omaril, an Iranian-flagged vessel, had been boarded by seven pirates who had taken the crew as hostages,” Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

INS Sharda intercepted the vessel in early hours of Friday and used her integral helo and boats to coerce the pirates for safe release of crew along with the vessel, he said.

The ship has ensured successful release of the 11 Iranian and eight Pakistani crew members, he said.

“The ship also undertook confirmatory boarding on FV Omari to sanitise and check on the well-being of the crew who had been held captive by the Somali pirates,” Madhwal said.

“Relentless efforts by Indian Naval platforms, mission deployed for anti-piracy and maritime security operations, continue to save precious life at sea, symbolising Indian Navy’s resolve towards safety of all vessels and seafarers at sea,” he said.

Indian warship INS Sumitra rescued 19 Pakistani crew of a fishing vessel after their Iranian-flagged fishing vessel was attacked by pirates in east coast of Somalia a few days back.

In a coordinated response, the Indian Navy along with naval forces of Sri Lanka and Seychelles, also rescued a fishing vessel earlier this week after it was hijacked in the sea lanes east of Mogadishu.

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.

The Navy has already enhanced deployment of its frontline ships and surveillance aircraft for maritime security operations in view of the maritime environment in the critical sea lanes including in the North and Central Arabian Sea.