Expressing concern over piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Centre on Tuesday said various ministries and security agencies are making "discreet efforts" to secure the release of Indians held captive by Somali pirates.
"Instances of piracy off Somalia's coast have been a constant source of concern for the government. The ministry of shipping, in close coordination with the ministry of external affairs, Indian Navy and other agencies, has been making discreet efforts to secure release of the personnel," Union shipping minister GK Vasan said.
He was addressing a seminar on 'Indo-US Partnership in Indian Ports and Maritime Sector' in Chennai on Tuesday.
"So far (since 2009), 242 Indian crew members on board merchant vessels of various flags have been hijacked by Somali pirates. As a result of concerted efforts of the Government, in coordination with ship owners and managers, 220 of them have been released," said the minister.
He assured that all efforts are being taken to secure the release of the remaining 22 Indian personnel from their Somali captors.
The minister said that India and US could explore the possibility of working together to counter piracy on the basis of the 2006 Indo-US Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation, "which provides for expanding cooperation in areas such as counter-piracy and littoral security."