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French Navy helps free hijacked Indian boat off Somalia


New Delhi : The Indian and French navies have helped free a small boat with 14 Indians on board that was hijacked by Somalian pirates last week, an official said here Thursday.

The small boat was hijacked by the pirates off the Somalian coast Friday and was freed Wednesday after a joint operation by the two navies, the official said.

The Somalian pirates carrying rocket propelled grenades and AK-47s hijacked the Indian boat about 10 nautical miles off Boosaaso in Gulf of Aden waters. The vessel had discharged its cargo at the Somali harbour and was proceeding to Dubai.

The Somalian pirates forced the boat towards Bab el Mandeb, north of Somalia, and tried to hijack MVA Elephant, a Liberian tanker, Monday.

A French warship shadowed the pirated boat and exchanged information about it with the Indian naval ship.

“The dhow was thereafter tracked continuously by the warships of both the navies. Attempts to board the dhow for investigation by the French ship were abandoned when the pirates threatened to kill the 14 crew held hostage on the dhow.

“Following the joint efforts by the Indian and French warships patrolling the waters of Gulf of Aden, the pirates steered the dhow towards Somalian coast and released it along with the crew July 15 (Wednesday),” the Indian Navy official said.

However, the pirates robbed the crew of all their cash and valuables.

The hijacked boat was registered at Porbandar in India and was operating from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This is the sixth successful operation of the Indian Navy against the pirates in the region since November last.

Earlier this month, the Indian Navy thwarted a piracy bid off the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean region.