Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

India praised for sinking pirates

INS Tabar [File picture]
The Indian navy is now patrolling off the Somali coast

An anti-piracy watchdog has welcomed the destruction of a suspected Somali pirate vessel in the Gulf of Aden by an Indian navy warship.

INS Tabar sank the pirate "mother ship" after it did not stop for investigation and instead opened fire, an Indian navy statement said on Wednesday.

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

The latest attack came days after the Saudi-owned Sirius Star supertanker and its 25 crew were seized by pirates.

The supertanker is now anchored off the Somali coast.


"If all warships do this, it will be a strong deterrent. But if it's just a rare case, then it won't work," Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, told Associated Press.

Mr Choong said he was heartened by the Tabar's success.

"It's about time that such a forceful action is taken. It's an action that everybody is waiting for," he said.

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

"The United Nations and international community must decide how to solve this grave problem (of piracy). They must be more forceful in their action," Mr Choong said.

He said that action should have been taken "years back or even last year when piracy was just starting - it's clearly getting worse and out of control".

Map showing areas of pirate attacks

On Wednesday, the Indian navy said the Tabar spotted the pirate vessel while patrolling 285 nautical miles (528km) south-west of Salalah in Oman on Tuesday evening.

The navy said the pirates on board were armed with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers.

When it commanded the vessel stop for investigation, the pirate ship responded by threatening to "blow up the naval warship if it closed on her", the navy statement said.

Pirates then fired on the Tabar and the Indians retaliated. There was an explosion and the pirate vessel sank.

Some of the pirates tried to escape on two speedboats.

The Indian sailors gave chase and one boat was later found abandoned, while a second boat escaped.

INS Tabar has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden since 23 October, and has escorted 35 ships safely through the "pirate-infested waters", the statement said.

Last week, helicopter-borne Indian marine commandos stopped pirates from boarding and hijacking an Indian merchant vessel.

More than 90 vessels have been attacked by pirates this year.

Piracy off the coast of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden - an area of more than 1m sq miles (2.6m sq km) - is estimated to have cost up to $30m in ransoms this year, a UK think tank has said.

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