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Indian Naval Forces liberate Iranian fishing boat seized off the coast of Somalia.

On Monday, the Indian Naval Forces announced the successful liberation of an Iranian fishing vessel that had fallen victim to piracy off the coast of Somalia. This incident marks the latest assault on shipping in the Indian Ocean.

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Indian Naval Forces Foil Hijacking Attempt off Somalia

Concerns about a resurgence of Indian Ocean piracy have heightened following a hijacking incident off Somalia. Yemen’s Houthi rebels have also increased attacks in the region. The Indian navy’s quick response to a distress call from the Iranian-flagged vessel, Iman, showcases its commitment to combating piracy.

The navy’s warship INS Sumitra, part of an anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden, intercepted the hijacked vessel and successfully coerced the pirates into releasing the 17-member crew. The operation involved sanitizing the fishing boat before allowing it to continue its journey.

The surge in attacks by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has prompted the diversion of international naval forces northward, creating a potential security gap. Eric Jaslin of the Maritime Information Cooperation and Awareness (MICA) Centre highlights the uncertainty about whether attacks result from “piracy of opportunity” or a focus on the Red Sea by military resources.

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Pirate attacks off Somalia reached a peak in 2011 but significantly declined after international navies increased their presence. India’s continuous deployment since 2008 has been reinforced with a larger force in December, including guided-missile destroyers and reconnaissance aircraft.

Despite close trade ties with Iran, India has not joined the US-led maritime task force in the Red Sea. Recent incidents, including the foiling of the hijacking attempt on MV Lila Norfolk and the piracy of the Sri Lankan trawler Lorenzo Putha-4, underscore the ongoing threat.

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Last month, Somali pirates hijacked the MV Ruen, owned by Bulgaria and flagged in Malta. The vessel and its crew were taken to Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland. The Indian navy, involved in the incident, released one injured sailor from the ship’s crew.

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The latest events suggest a dynamic and evolving security landscape in the waters off Somalia, requiring continued vigilance and coordinated efforts by international naval forces.

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