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"Indian Navy Rescues 19 Pakistanis from Somali Pirates in Successful Operation"
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Indian naval forces have conducted successful rescues of two hijacked vessels off the coast of Somalia, amid growing concerns about a potential resurgence of piracy in the region.

The warship INS Sumitra carried out the rescues within a span of 36 hours. Just days earlier, the Seychelles defense forces had reported freeing a group of fishermen from pirates.

The waters off the Somali coast were previously notorious for piracy, but the activity had significantly declined after international forces intensified patrols. India has been actively involved in patrolling the area since 2008. However, recent developments indicate a shift in focus, with naval forces moving to the Red Sea, where the Houthi rebel group in Yemen has been targeting ships. Experts are now concerned that this shift might create an opportunity for pirates to exploit the vacuum in the region.

The first successful hijacking in the area since 2017 occurred in December, raising concerns among maritime security officials. However, experts believe that while attacks have increased, a full-scale resurgence to previous levels is unlikely, as the recent incidents seem more opportunistic than systematic.

The Indian navy responded to a distress call on January 28, intercepting an Iranian-flagged vessel and coercing the pirates to release the crew and the boat. Two days later, on January 30, INS Sumitra intercepted another Iranian-flagged fishing vessel, Al Naeemi, and boarded it to ensure the well-being of the 19 Pakistani sailors on board.

Earlier in January, Indian Navy commandos rescued 21 crew members from a Liberian-flagged ship attacked by pirates off the Somali coast. Meanwhile, the Seychelles forces freed six Sri Lankan fishermen who had been held hostage by gunmen.

On January 26, the Indian Navy deployed INS Visakhapatnam in the Gulf of Aden in response to a distress call from Marlin Luanda, a UK-linked tanker that had caught fire after being hit by a missile fired by the Houthis. French and US naval ships also provided assistance to the vessel.

Piers Potter

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