Nearly 100 Indian sailors have been captured and seven dhows seized by pirates off the Somali coast, a shipping association on Tuesday said.
“Around Saturday afternoon we got information that seven of our vessels were hijacked by Somali pirates in mid-sea,” Kutch Vahanvati Association (KVA) president Kasam Ali Bholim told PTI.
“Over 80-100 crew members of these vessels have been captured. We have already approached the port authorities and the Director General Shipping in this regard,” he said.
“They are trying to locate the ships and make contact with the pirates. But nothing has materialised till now,” the head of the 140-member KVA said.
“We have lost all communication with the crew. Nor have the pirates made contact with us. We are just waiting for information about the vessels,” he said.
Mr. Bholim said five vessels are from Kutch while two others are from Porbander and Veraval. He feared that there could be more vessels hijacked by the Somali pirates.
According to the Naval headquarters in Delhi, the abduction of the sailors took place at high seas off the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden a week ago.
“The Shipping Director General has this evening confirmed the pirate attack on these dhows on the basis of information received from another dhow that was apparently let off by Somali pirates after initially holding it captive for a couple of days,” a Navy officer said.
The dhows that were hijacked by the Somali pirates were identified as MSVs Al Kadri, Al Izaj, Faize Osmani, Sea Queen, Nar Narayan, Krishna Hyot, Vishwa Kalyan and AKPCT.
“Though these were the names given by the Shipping Director General’s office, some of them needed to be confirmed. A notice has been issued by the DG Shipping’s office to the Federation of All Indian Sailing Vessels based at Jamnagar in Gujarat,” the officer told PTI.
The hijackings came to light after a dhow, identified as MSV Arzoo that was freed by the pirates after holding it captive for a couple of days sailed to Seychelles waters, anchored there and informed Indian authorities about the abductions, the officer said.
MSV Arzoo was asked to flee the Gulf of Aden after its engines broke down and the pirates apparently did not find it suitable to be used as a mother ship by them, he said.
All the seized dhows and the one that was freed had recently called on a Somali port to off load goods that were being shipped there, the officer said.
Owner of vessel MSV Nar Narayan Dhiraj Thakkar said he was waiting for the government to take some action.
“We got information (of the capture) from one of the ships which was able to briefly contact its owner before being captured,” Mr. Thakkar said.