NAIROBI, November 19 – Somali pirates hijacked three other ships on Tuesday even as an Indian warship attacked a pirate boat off the Somalia coastline.,
Indian Naval Spokesman Nirad Sinha said Indian stealth frigate INS Tabar deployed in the Gulf of Aden on an anti-piracy mission, attacked the ship late on Tuesday after coming under fire from gunmen on board the pirate vessel.
"This vessel was similar in description to the ‘mother vessel’ mentioned in various piracy bulletins," Sinha told French news agency AFP.
"The INS Tabar closed in on the mother vessel and asked her to stop for investigation. But on repeated calls, the vessel’s threatening response was that she would blow up the naval warship if it approached,” he said.
Sinha said pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of the main vessel with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
"The vessel subsequently fired on the INS Tabar, and the warship retaliated in self defence," he said. "Explosions were heard, possibly due to exploding ammunition that was stored on the vessel."
Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Association separately told Capital News that the three ships hijacked include a Thai fishing boat, a Hong Kong-registered cargo and a Greek bulk carrier.
“The ships were hijacked on Tuesday night but we have not been able to contact the crew on the ships,” he said on telephone.
“They were all seized by different groups of pirates in the Gulf of Aden,” he added.
The hijacking came even as the Royal Navy and other foreign naval forces continued to patrol the Somalia waters and other volatile parts in the Gulf of Aden.
On Tuesday, eight suspected pirates who were arrested by the Royal Navy were handed over to the Kenyan authorities and were due to be arraigned in court on Wednesday.
Coast Provincial Police chief King’ori Mwangi told Capital News the suspects were to face piracy-related charges and being in possession of firearms.
“Our investigations are complete. The suspects will appear in court this morning (Wednesday),” he said.
The Sirius Star, one of the world’s newest super-tankers with oil worth an estimated $100 million, was hijacked by another pirate group far out to see further south on Saturday and remained in the control of the Somali pirates for a fifth day. A ransom demand had already been sent but no figures were disclosed.
"So far, the pirates have seized three more ships in the Gulf of Aden one from Hong Kong, another one from Greece and a Thai fishing ship registered in Kiribati," Mr Mwangura said.
"We are still making contacts with the owners and operators of these ships," said Mr Mwangura, who was not able to confirm the ship’s name.