A recent spurt in pirate activity in the Arabian Sea
In a bid to strengthen their antipiracy operations, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have combined forces to provide a safe passage to merchant vessels charting waters off Lakshadweep Islands. The move comes in the wake of a recent spurt in pirate activity in the Arabian Sea.
Chief public relations officer (Defence) Captain Manohar Nambiar said, “As part of the Operation Island Watch, two ships-naval and Coast Guard-are keeping a hawkeye in the waters to ensure safety of merchant vessels navigating the shipping lanes off Lakshadweep Islands.”
In addition to the ships, reconnaissance aircraft are carrying out sorties at regular intervals to pre-empt any adventure by the pirates. The naval ships are equipped with adequate arms and ammunition to protect the ships. The Indian Navy has also deployed its elite force of Marine Commandos or MARCOS to counter any offensive by the pirates.
A Yellow Gate police officer said that the pirates are funded by big-time players. “The arrested pirates have told us that they were approached by contractors to hijack vessels and were paid $500 for each successful operation . The contractors paid them money to buy arms.”
According to the statistics put up on the website of International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a maritime watchdog, as on March 2011, 250 people had been taken hostages by Somali pirates in 14 incidents of hijackings.
Atotal of seven people were killed. The IMB claims that the pirates took a record 1,181 people hostage in 2010. Overall, there were 445 pirates attacks worldwide last year-a 10% increase from 2009. Nambiar said, “The IMB has praised our maritime forces for their successful operations against pirates.”
Source: Times of India