India sends naval vessel to freighter seized by pirates off Somalia

Indian Navy on Friday said it had dispatched a naval vessel to monitor a Liberian-flagged freighter, seized by pirates off the Somali coast.

At least 15 Indian seamen are said to be aboard the MV Lila Norfolk, India’s ANI news agency reported, citing military sources.

The navy had earlier received a report from UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), an organization that monitors merchant shipping in the Arabian Sea, according to which five or six armed persons had boarded the freighter.

India has recently dispatched naval vessels to assist vessels that have come under attack in the Arabian Sea lying between the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula.

While piracy off the Somali coast has declined in response to the European Union’s Operation Atalanta, which was set up in 2008, a freighter was seized by pirates on Dec. 14 and directed to sail to Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy centre reported.

Houthi rebels who control much of Yemen directly across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia have been attacking merchant shipping in the region since the outbreak of the Gaza war.

The attacks have disrupted shipping on a key commercial route running through the Suez Canal. (dpa/NAN)