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Indian navy rescues 19 crew after Somali pirate hijack

Indian navy rescues 19 crew after Somali pirate hijack
Agence France-Presse Feb 3, 2024

New Delhi, India - India's navy said Friday it had rescued 19 crew members aboard a fishing vessel hijacked off Somalia, the third such operation this week after a spate of attacks on shipping in the region.

A distress call from the Iranian-flagged FV Omari was received on Wednesday and the Indian patrol boat INS Sharda intercepted the vessel in the "early hours" of Friday, a navy statement said.

"The ship has ensured successful release of the crew... along with the boat," it 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."

Eleven Iranian and eight Pakistani crew members were aboard the vessel, the statement said.

Photographs published by the navy showed Indian naval commandos boarding a boat, which was emblazoned along its side with the Iranian national flag, in open waters.

One photo appeared to show one of the hijackers raising their hands in surrender.

Seven pirates had taken control of the ship, said the navy statement, which did not give details of whether the hijackers were detained.

It was the third time in the past week that Indian forces had intercepted Iranian-flagged fishing vessels in the area to rescue their crews from Somali hijackers.

Another patrol boat "compelled the safe release" of 19 crew members from the FV Al Naeemi overnight on Monday.

That operation came just 36 hours after India said its forces had freed 17 crew members aboard the MV Iman.