India on Saturday voiced concern over Somalian pirates shifting their operations faster than the world forces can react and the outlaws operating hundreds of miles offshore despite presence of naval warships. The union minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur, who was here to attend Northern Mariners conclave of Chandigarh chapter said about 900 people of different nations, including about 55 of India were in the captivity of the Somalian pirates.
At least two people from the region are among the 55 Indians who are being held hostage by the pirates.
"The Somali pirates continue to increase their level of audacity…The presence of naval warships and increased aerial reconnaissance by the military forces of several nations has had minimal impact on the Somali pirates," the minister said.
Somalia, which is located in the horn of Africa region has no effective central government and the country is dominated by violent clan-based militia groups who are controlled by warlords. As per the reports these pirates release the hostages after being paid huge amount by the ship owners.
According to the minister, Somalia's strategic location---adjacent to the busiest shipping lanes in the world---has made it a safe haven for extremists, terrorists and the pirates.
Kaur said that though there had been successful interventions, the pirates were successful in shifting their operations "faster than military forces can react."
She reiterated the union government's resolve that the centre was committed to the welfare of Indians being held hostage by the pirates. "We still have 55 people in captivity of the Somalian pirates. The government will do everything possible to protect our people," she assured.
Kaur said that due to union government's intervention, the Somali pirates set free last month 11 Indians, two Punjab youth including, who were among a crew of 26 of a cargo ship (Rak Afrikana of Dubai) held hostage for 322 days since April 11, 2010. The minister, however, refused to divulge the precise nature of centre's efforts in getting released the hostages. "We just extended support to the owner of the ship."