35 pirates, caught in mid-sea op by Navy, to be prosecuted in India: Report

The Indian Navy is in the process of bringing the 35 Somali pirates, who surrendered following a 40-hour mid-sea operation over the weekend, to India for prosecution, the Times of India reported on Monday. 

The pirates, who had commandeered MV Ruen to launch attacks on other ships, will be prosecuted under the ‘Maritime Anti-Piracy Act’, notified last year, an officer associated with the matter said.

“The usual practice is to set apprehended pirates adrift on their skiffs after disarming them to ensure they do not pose a threat to other vessels. But these 35 pirates opened fire on our warship. If they are let go, they will re-group…,” the officer was quoted as saying. Notably, incidents of attacks on commercial vessels are on rise since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7 last year.

How were Somali pirates caught in a 40-hour op?

On Saturday, the Indian Navy said that it had thwarted the plan of Somali pirates to hijack ships plying through the region (2,600 km from the Indian coast) by intercepting ex-MV Ruen.

“The ex-MV Ruen, which had been hijacked by Somali pirates on December 14, was reported to have sailed out as a pirate ship towards conducting acts of piracy on the high seas, it said in a statement. The ship was hijacked by Somali pirates near the Yemeni island of Socotra.

The vessel was intercepted by the navy warship – INS Kolkata – on Friday. According to the Navy, the pirates opened fire on the Indian warship, triggering retaliation, which resulted in a 40-hour-long operation.

17 foreign crew members rescued

“INS Kolkata, in the last 40 hours, through concerted actions successfully cornered and coerced all 35 Pirates to surrender and ensured safe evacuation of 17 crew members in the evening of March 16 from the pirate vessel without any injury,” the statement said. The crew belonged to Angola, Myanmar, and Bulgaria, the officer said.

The operation was conducted with the team effort of INS Kolkata, INS Subhadra, high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft and P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Additionally, Combat Rubberised Raiding Craft (CRRC) boats and the MARCOS commandos were also air-dropped using a C-17 aircraft in the dramatic mission, the navy said.

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