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INS Tabar had every right to defend itself: IMB

world Updated: Nov 26, 2008 21:27 IST
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The Indian naval warship in the Gulf of Aden had every right to retaliate when pirates on board a Thai fishing boat opened fire, the international maritime bureau said on Wednesday, terming it "unfortunate" that INS Tabar was not hooked to its communication network.

"The hijacked Thai fishing vessel was (of) the same size and had all the hallmarks of a 'mother ship' used by pirates in the African waters with heavily armed pirates on board when the Indian Navy tried to intercept the vessel and was attacked," Noel Choong, head of the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre, said.

INS Tabar last week destroyed a vessel off the Somali coast suspecting it to be a pirate mother ship. But a Thai company has said it was a fishing boat owned by it and hijacked by the pirates.

A Thai crew member died in the attack while a Cambodian sailor is in a hospital in Yemen. Fourteen people are missing.

Indian Navy maintained that INS Tabar had acted against a "pirate" vessel on the high seas and was "convinced" about it.

The IMB received a report about the mistake by the Indian Navy from the Thai trawler's owner Bangkok-based Sirichai Fisheries, Choong said. Sirichai found out about the mishap after speaking to the injured Cambodian sailor, he said.

Choong said INS Tabar was independently deployed by the Indian government and was not a part of the coalition navies present in the African waters. IMB's communication about the hijacked Thai vessel with pictures and details, sent to all coalition navies, would not have been received by it, he said.

"The Indian Navy is not linked to the International Maritime Bureau's communication network. It is only fair to say that the Indian Navy attacked the vessel as it had every right to defend itself," Choong observed.

Choong suggested that the Indian Navy too should be linked to the communication network.

He said whenever a ship was hijacked, the Maritime Bureau disseminated the information to everyone on its network to ask for assistance.

"We sent a picture of the Thai vessel to all the coalition navies asking for help," but if the Indian navy did not receive the communication it is only fair to say that they saw a ship with all signs of a pirate vessel and attacked it when the pirates opened fire, he said.

"We are sad by the incident and it is unfortunate but it should not affect anti-piracy operations by the navies in the African waters," Choong added.