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28 Somali pirates handed over to police

The 28 pirates who were detained off the coast of Lakshwadeep Islands on Sunday were handed over to the Yellow Gate police on Thursday. They also found 19 AK-47s, two pistols, one rocket launcher and one shoulder launcher from the pirates.

mumbai Updated: Feb 11, 2011 01:35 IST
HT Correspondent

The 28 pirates who were detained off the coast of Lakshwadeep Islands on Sunday were handed over to the Yellow Gate police on Thursday. They also found 19 AK-47s, two pistols, one rocket launcher and one shoulder launcher from the pirates.

The Indian Coast Guard had detained 28 pirates after they attacked a Greek-flagged Merchant Ship MV Chios on Sunday at 100 nautical miles west of Kavaratti Islands.

The coast guard also rescued 24 Thai crew members from a trawler, Pranatalaya II, that the pirates had hijacked earlier and were using to attack bigger merchant vessels. The hostages were also brought to the city. "There are 24 Thai crew members who were rescued from Pranatalaya II. They are all at Yellow Gate along with the 20 hostages rescued previously from Prantalaya II on January 29," said Quaiser Khalid, deputy commissioner of police (Port Zone).

"The pirates were sent for medical examination and we have started recording statements. Only after analysing the complaint filed by the Coast Guard, we would be able to charge the pirates under valid sections. The matter is sensitive. We are in a process of registering the FIR," Khalid said.

According to the coast guard, 26 crewmembers were aboard Prantralay II. However, one of the hostage who was reportedly malnourished jumped into the water as soon as the Navy and the coast guard began their operation.

"The hostages were kept aboard Pranatalaya II for more than nine months. The vessel was hijacked by the pirates in April last year," said a coast guard official. A hostage named Kithisak, 24, told the HT that while the pirates made the hostages perform their daily chores as they did prior to the hijacking of the vessel. "We were never beaten or harmed in anyway because we cooperated with them (the pirates) fully," said Kithisak.

"Two of the five pirate groups have been apprehended. We have estimated that three pirate groups very likely of Somali origin are active and close to the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," said SPS Basra, inspector general of coast guard. According to the coast guard also said that the merchant vessels have been advised to keep away from the affected areas.

The coast guard said that another crewmember was reportedly killed to scare the hostages. "His body was kept in the cold storage of the trawler until it started decomposing; following which it was thrown into the sea," said Basra.

Somali pirates have hijacked three trawlers of the Prantalaya series so far and demanded a ransom of $8-million. The hostages were never released as the owner refused to pay more than $2 million. "We have found three other Somali pirates groups in the Arabian Sea," said Basra.