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India deploys naval warship near Somali coast

Monday, 18 April 2011 - 9:37pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI
A Talwar Class stealth warship has been positioned near the coast for readiness for any military action in case it is required to rescue the hostages.

India has deployed a naval warship close to the Somali coast as part of efforts to secure the release of seven of its nationals still held captive by the pirates despite taking ransom.

A Talwar Class stealth warship has been positioned near the coast for readiness for any military action in case it is required to rescue the hostages.

"We will not leave that place without rescuing the hostages still with the Somali pirates. This is our top priority," top defence ministry sources said today.

Each navy warship has a component of elite marine commandos on-board and they have taken part in anti-piracy operations in the recent past.

Asked if there was a possibility of an operation by the special forces to rescue the hostages, the sources said, "this is a sensitive issue. We can't talk about it."

The pirates have released eight Indian sailors from merchant vessel MV Asphalt Venture but have held back seven hostages to secure the release of their accomplices languishing in Indian prisons.

The frigate despatched to Somalia will remain close to the hijacked ship and ensure that MV Asphalt Venture doesn't get hijacked again nor its crew is harmed by other groups.

The issue comes after a high level meeting held yesterday to deal with the issue where finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, defence minister AK Antony and navy chief Nirmal Verma were present.

Another meeting is expected to take place tomorrow if there is any further progress in the issue, they added.

The Indian Navy has captured 120 Somali pirates during its anti-piracy operations in the waters off the Horn of Africa and Lakshadweep Islands in the last six months. The biggest capture was of 61 Somali pirates last month after a mother ship, Vega 5, was apprehended.

According to reports, 53 Indian sailors are being held hostage on five different ships. Of them, 17 have been held for the longest on MT Savina Caylyn, an Italian ship which was seized Feb 8, 2010.


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