India dispatches vessel after hijacking attempt in Arabian Sea

New Delhi, Jan 5 (EFE).- The Indian Navy sent a warship in response to an attempted hijacking of a Liberian-flagged ship with at least 15 Indian citizens on board in the Arabian Sea, near the coast of Somalia, according to a statement by the defense ministry on Friday.

The vessel, used for transporting grains, sent an alarm message to the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations when five to six unknown gunmen boarded on Thursday afternoon.

“Responding swiftly to the developing situation, Indian Navy launched a Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) and has diverted INS Chennai deployed for Maritime Security Operations to assist the vessel,” said the statement but did not give any further details of the hijacking attempt.

The plane flew over the area where the ship was located early Friday and established contact with the vessel to check the safety of the crew.

“Naval aircraft continues to monitor movement and INS Chennai is closing the vessel to render assistance,” it added.

India has stepped up surveillance in the Arabian Sea in recent weeks by deploying several destroyers, including the INS Chennai, days after a merchant ship was attacked.

The attempted hijacking of the Liberian vessel took place near the coast of Somalia, the country with the longest coastline in all of Africa (over 3,000 kilometers), and whose waters witnessed constant attacks and hijacking of ships perpetrated by pirates demanding high ransoms between 2005 and 2011.

In addition, the recent escalation of attacks from Yemeni territory, including ship hijacking, has put world trade on the crucial Red Sea-Arabian Sea route at risk.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels announced that they would attack ships bearing the flag of the Jewish state, owned by Israeli companies or bound for Israel in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, in retaliation for Israel’s indiscriminate attack on Palestinian territory in Gaza. EFE


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