Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

India 'to step up piracy battle'

INS Mysore (File photo)
India is expected to increase its deployment in the Gulf of Aden

India is bolstering its naval presence in the Gulf of Aden to tackle piracy off Somalia's coast, reports say.

The Indian navy is planning to send at least one more warship to the area, according to local media reports.

And Delhi has formally been given permission to act under a UN resolution allowing navies to pursue pirates into Somalia's territorial waters.

Piracy incidents have surged off the Somali coast and a number of Indian crews have been on hijacked ships.

On Tuesday, an Indian warship sank a suspected pirate "mother ship" after it came under attack in the Gulf of Aden.

Earlier this week, a Saudi Arabian super tanker, the Sirius Star, was hijacked along with 25 crew. The tanker, loaded with oil worth $100m, is now anchored off the Somali coast.

Security Council mandate

According to local media reports, the Indian navy now plans to send at least one more warship to the Gulf of Aden.

INS Mysore - a destroyer - could be deployed as early as next week, reports say.

Map showing areas of pirate attacks

The Navy refused to confirm the report, saying it did not discuss deployment of ships.

Under a UN Security Council resolution passed in June, states co-operating with Somalia's transitional government are permitted, for a period of six months, to enter its territorial waters to "repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea".

The international forces are allowed to use "all necessary means", in a manner consistent with relevant provisions of international law, according to resolution 1816.

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

In recent weeks, there has been a growing demand for multinational efforts to fight the pirates, with more than 90 vessels attacked this year.

France, India, South Korea, Russia, Spain, the US and Nato also have a presence in the region.

'Pirate-infested waters'

India has called for greater co-operation between foreign navies to tackle the piracy threat.

India deployed INS Tabar in the Gulf of Aden on 23 October, and it has escorted 35 ships safely through the "pirate-infested waters", the navy says.

Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Shipping in India has confirmed that seven Indians are among the crew of the MV Delight, a Hong-Kong registered Iranian cargo ship, which was hijacked on Tuesday.

The 25-member crew includes two Pakistanis, seven Filipinos, seven Iranians and two Ghanaians.

The ship was carrying wheat and was bound for Iran.

A week ago, 18 Indian crew members of the Japanese-owned cargo ship MV Stolt Valor were released after being held by pirates for two months.

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

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