Page last updated at 05:23 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 06:23 UK

India 'to guard Somalia waters'

File photo of assailants who attacked a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia in 2005
Piracy is a lucrative business with huge ransoms demanded

India says it will send warships to the Gulf of Aden to protect its container vessels from pirates operating off the coast of Somalia.

A defence official said one warship would be deployed immediately and that the number could be increased later.

The announcement coincided with protests by families of 18 Indian sailors who have been held captive on a ship by Somali pirates since August.

There has been a recent surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991 and has suffered continuing civil strife.

Warships from several countries are already patrolling the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.


Eighteen of the 22 crew on the Japanese-owned merchant vessel held since August are Indian.

The wife of the captain told the BBC that she had been told that India would not be sending in naval warships immediately.

They are telling us that it takes about six to eight weeks to negotiate with the pirates
Seema Goyal, wife of the captain of highjacked ship

Seema Goyal, who has been spearheading the protests by families of crew members, said: "I was told by federal shipping authorities that the warships would be send only after the resolution of the hijacking of this ship."

She said the owners of the vessel had told the families of the crew that "negotiations with the pirates were in progress".

"They are telling us that it takes about six to eight weeks to negotiate with the pirates. We are already into the fifth week after the hijacking took place. I really don't know where we stand," she said.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia is estimated to have cost up to $30m (17m) in ransoms so far this year, according to a recent report by a UK think tank.

The Nato military alliance recently said it would send warships to help combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Life in Somalia's pirate town
18 Sep 08 |  Africa
Country profile: Somalia
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles


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