Seychelles, Indian forces rescue hijacked Sri Lankan and Iranian vessels from Somali pirates

INS Sumitra carries out 2nd anti piracy operation rescuing 19 crew members and Vessel from Somali Pirates. [Photo India Navy]

A Sri Lankan fishing boat and an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel were recently rescued after being hijacked by Somali pirates, Al Jazeera reported.

The Seychelles forces successfully carried out the rescue operation for the Sri Lankan boat, while the Indian Navy freed the Iranian vessel. The attacks, conducted by armed Somali pirates, are causing growing concerns about the security of the waters in the region. The official statement from Seychelles emphasised the bravery of their special military forces in regaining control of the vessel and rescuing the Sri Lankan crew.

The incident unfolded in international waters, approximately 840 nautical miles east of Somalia, 1,100 nautical miles from Sri Lanka, and north of Seychelles, according to Captain Gayan Wickramasuriya, a spokesperson for the Sri Lankan Navy. The hijackers, two to three armed person on a 75-foot vessel, boarded the fishing trawler, fired warning shots to deter nearby fishing boats, and took both the trawler and its crew.

The Sri Lankan authorities had been in diplomatic talks with Somali authorities to determine the whereabouts of the fishing vessel and its six crew members. This incident occurred two weeks after Sri Lanka had announced its participation in the US-led operation aimed at safeguarding merchant vessels in the Red Sea from attacks by Houthi rebels.

Simultaneously, the Indian Navy successfully rescued the Iranian fishing vessel, named Iman, which had been hijacked off the coast of Somalia. Commander Vivek Madhwal, a spokesperson for the Indian Navy, stated that pirates had boarded the vessel, taking the entire crew hostage. An Indian naval warship intervened and ensured the release of all 17 crew members along with the boat.

These suspected hijackings off the coast of Somalia have raised concerns about the resurgence of Somali pirate activities, a decade after they caused havoc in international shipping. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in the region, particularly the attacks by Houthis in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza, has heightened security fears. International naval forces, previously patrolling the Gulf of Aden, have redirected their efforts north into the Red Sea to counter these attacks, potentially leaving a vacuum that Somali pirates might exploit. The recent successful Somali piracy case in December 2017 has added to these concerns.

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