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Pirates seize Indian vessel, beaten off

world Updated: Oct 22, 2008 01:12 IST
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Armed Somali men, helping out coastguards in the African waters, have managed to free an Indian cargo ship with 13 sailors on board, after it was hijacked by pirates off the northern coast of Somalia.

Four of the armed pirates, who had come in speedboats to hijack the Indian cargo vessel, have been captured, a senior minister from Somalia was quoted as saying. There were no reports of any injuries.

Earlier on Tuesday, an official of the International Maritime Bureau here said pirates seized the ship which was enroute to Somalia and hijacked it south of Socotra Island over the weekend. The attack came despite increased international cooperation to crack down on pirates in Somali waters.

The hijack has pushed the number of attacks by pirates this year along Somali coast to 74. A total of 30 ships have been hijacked and 10 remain in the hands of the pirates along with nearly 200 crew members.

The Indian government has dispatched a powerful stealth warship to the area as momentum has been growing for coordinated international response to the spate of hijacking being unleashed by Somali pirates using speedboats.

A powerful US naval flotilla was in the vicinity of the hijack area monitoring the boarding of a Ukranian ship M V Faina which was carrying tanks and other heavy weaponry.

The US warships have been joined by naval ships from NATO and Russia. Another Russian warship crossed the Suez Canal to join two other Russian vessels already there. The hijack prompted the head of the maritime bureau's chief Noel Choong to issue a warning for ships to maintain a strict vigil to thwart the pirates.

Some naval commanders have also suggested that shipping companies should consider hiring private security firms to guard the ships on the dangerous waters. “The momentum is still there, the attacks are still continuing in this key shipping route. So there is a need to be watchful,” Choong said.