The Coast Guard on Sunday intercepted a foreign vessel that entered Indian waters near the Alappuzha coast, a police officer said.
The vessel was intercepted 52 nautical miles off the Indian coast with the help of navy ships. It was later taken to Vizinjam (20km from Thiruvananthapuram) and 12 of its occupants were detained for questioning.
"A joint team comprising intelligence and navy officials are questioning them. They seem to be Iranian nationals. Initially, they said they lost their way and entered the Indian waters inadvertently," the senior police officer told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.
The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have been keeping a strict vigil along the coastal areas following intelligence reports that extremists may sneak into the country to carry out attacks.
An explosives-laden Pakistani trawler had blown itself up on December 31 last year after being intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard in the Arabian Sea off Porbandar, Gujarat. A Coast Guard official said he had issued orders to blow up the boat, but later denied making such a remark amid an uproar.
The incident brought back memories of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008. Ten gunmen had travelled from Karachi in a boat, hijacked an Indian fishing vessel and steered it to Mumbai to go on a three-day rampage during which they killed 166 people.