Seized tanker heading for Hobyo

April 6, 2010 12:00 am



MUMBAI, Apr 6 – At least nine vessels and 95 Indian sailors are still being held captive by pirates off the coast of Africa, a government official in Mumbai said on Tuesday.

Six Indian boats with 78 sailors and another three foreign boats with 17 Indians on board are in the custody of Somali pirates, director general of shipping Lakshmi Venkatachalam told reporters.

India has approached the Somalian government for help to ensure release of the captured vessels.

"Our view is pirates are using these sailing vessels as an interim mode of travel across the seas," she said.

Last week, Somali pirates released two of the Indian boats hijacked in recent weeks, freeing 26 sailors.

The released ships were on their way to Dubai when they were hijacked after leaving a port in the rebel territory of Kismayo in Somalia.

India\’s union shipping minister Thiru G.K. Vasan on Tuesday said piracy was of "grave concern" to international maritime operations.

Somali pirates, targeting one of the world\’s busiest maritime trade routes, raked in an estimated 60 million dollars in ransoms last year.



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