Seven Indian vessels with 97 crew members are presumed to have been hijacked by Somali pirates off the Gulf of Aden. This has prompted India to immediately ban movement of its dhows on the line joining Salalah in Oman to Male in the Maldives — which falls on the pirate-infested route to Africa.
“We had to take this decision in view of the continuing threat of hijacking,” K. Mohandas, shipping secretary, said on Tuesday.
The Directorate General of Shipping in Mumbai said the seven vessels were hijacked in the past few days but exact dates are yet to be ascertained. The sailors are from Gujarat and were bound for the United Arab Emirates via Somalia.
“Our missions in the regions have been alerted,” said an External Affairs Ministry official.
“On Saturday we got information that seven or eight vessels registered with us have been hijacked by Somali pirates,” Kasam Ali, president, Kutch Vahanvati Association, was quoted as saying by AFP.
The hijackings came to light after a dhow, MSV Arzoo, was freed by pirates after being held captive in the Gulf of Aden for a few days, a navy source said.
Shipping Ministry sources said the vessels are safe in Gulf waters but come under threat once in the Africa region.