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India investigates Somali piracy
More than 100 crew members reported missing after Somali pirates capture eight boats.
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2010 12:03 GMT
Somali pirates are estimated to have taken
$60 million in ransom payments last year

Indian authorities are investigating reports of the hijacking of multiple vessels, carrying mostly Indian crew, by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa.

Authorities in New Delhi said on Tuesday that they were looking into the reports which said that about 120 crew members were being held captive on eight boats off the east African nation's coast.

Crew members on a hijacked Indian boat, released by Somali pirates this week, said that at least eight more vessels with Indian sailors had been captured in the past few days.

"The shipping authorities have been asked to probe whether any Indian boats have gone missing and taken over by Somali pirates," P V S Satish, an Indian navy official, said.

The Times of India newspaper and CNN-IBN television network said the eight vessels were on their way from Somalia to Dubai when they
were hijacked, adding that the sailors were from coastal Gujarat.

"They had anchored last in the rebel territory of Kismayo in Somalia where they loaded cargo into their boats. But moments after leaving the port, pirates captured them," the Times of India said on its website.

Seychelles action

Meanwhile, the coastguard office of the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, said in a statement on Tuesday that one of their vessels had repelled an attack by Somali pirates, destroying two of their boats.

The Topaz, one of their two coastguard vessels, had come under attack by three Somali pirate ships late on Monday.

"Topaz returned fire, one attack skiff was sunk and the mother ship exploded and caught fire. The third skiff managed to escape," the statement said.

Pirates seized a ship with 24 crew members on Monday off the port of Aden.

Traders in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, said that seven other vessels had been hijacked en route to the city over the past two days.

Somali pirates frequenty attack vessels in the Horn of Africa, particularly Indian ships, taking an estimated $60 million in ransom payments in 2009.

Source:
Agencies
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