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Indian, French Navies secure release of Indian dhow

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An Indian Navy ship (top) approaches the Indian dhow m.v. Nafeya, in the Gulf of Aden waters on Wednesday during the rescue operations.
An Indian Navy ship (top) approaches the Indian dhow m.v. Nafeya, in the Gulf of Aden waters on Wednesday during the rescue operations.

Special Correspondent

‘mv Nafeya’ was hijacked off Boosaaso, Somalia, last Friday

NEW DELHI: Acting in tandem, the Indian and French Navies conducted an operation to rescue a hijacked Indian dhow and its 14-member crew who were taken hostage by pirates near Somalia on July 10, the Indian Navy said here on Thursday.

The dhow ‘mv Nafeya,’ registered at Porbandar and operating from the UAE was hijacked off Boosaaso, Somalia, on Friday last by seven pirates armed with RPGs and AK-47s. The vessel was hijacked about 10 nautical miles off Boosasso in Puntland, the semi-autonomous north-eastern region of Somalia, after it had offloaded its cargo at the Somalia harbour and was headed towards Dubai.

The pirates forced the dhow towards Bab el Mandeb and on July 13 attempted to hijack m.v. Elephant, a Liberian tanker. However, the attack was thwarted by a French warship, belonging to the European Union Naval Force, which was in the vicinity.

The French warship shadowed the dhow and with the Indian Navy put into effect the well practised standard operating procedures. It continuously exchanged information with the Indian warship in the region on anti-piracy patrol. The dhow was thereafter tracked continuously by the warships of both the Navies.

The French warship made attempts to board the dhow for investigation but abandoned the mission after the pirates threatened to kill the crew.

However, seeing the movements of the warships, the pirates forced the dhow close to a Somali coast. They then released the dhow in the early hours of July 15 and after robbing the crew of all their cash and valuables and escaped in their skiff.

Assistance sought

The crew of the dhow then contacted the Indian warship seeking assistance. The Indian warship closed in on the dhow and in coordination with the French warship, boarded the dhow to provide succour. All the 14 Indian crew were found safe and the Indian warship provided them with food, water and medicine. The dhow proceeded towards Al Mukkalla in Yemen.

The Indian Navy said mutual understanding and operational interoperability resulted in the safe release of the Indian dhow and its crew without payment of any ransom.

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