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- Dubai 04:53 06:06 12:12 15:35 18:12 19:26
A pirate ship was intercepted near Lakshadweep, India, on Friday and 20 fishermen were rescued by the Navy and Coast Guard.
Fifteen Somalian pirates have been arrested, reported 'Hidustan Times'.
The pirates had been on the prowl in the eastern parts of Arabian Sea since last April after they hijacked a Thai vessel, Prantalay, and were using it as a mother vessel for carrying out a wave of attacks on merchant vessels.
INS Cankarso, a fast-attack craft, intercepted the mother ship 370 km off the Kochi coast, but the pirates opened fire. Prantalay burst into flames and sank after the Navy retaliated with "limited fire in self defence".
A Navy official said Cankarso fired a warning shot in keeping with internationally accepted norms after efforts to establish communication with Prantalay failed. But instead of stopping, the pirates began spraying bullets from their Kalashnikovs.
Fuel drums onboard Prantalay exploded when the navy struck back.
The chase lasted around seven hours. Within minutes of receiving a distress call from MV CMA CGM Verdi, a Bahama-flagged container ship, on Friday morning (10.30 am), a coast guard Dornier aircraft spotted two skiffs (speedboats) attempting a piracy attack. The skiffs aborted their mission and dashed towards the mother vessel sensing trouble from the skies.
“Prantalay hurriedly hoisted the two skiffs onboard and set a westerly course to escape. It was clear that the vessel was a pirate mother ship,” said the official.
Navy and coast guard Dorniers kept tracking the mother ship and gave its coordinates to Cankarso for delivering the final punch. It was already deployed in the area for anti piracy patrols. The fishermen rescued by the navy are of Thai and Myanmarese origin. The pirates are likely to be brought to Mumbai for legal action.
INS Kalpeni and Coast Guard Ship Sankalp also took part in the operation.
The Navy has been carrying out anti-piracy patrols in the international waters off the Gulf of Aden since October 2008.
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