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Hostages freed from Somali pirates by Indian, French Navies

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An Indian Navy ship approaches the Indian dhow m.v. Nafeya, in the Gulf of Aden waters on Wednesday during the rescue operations. Photo Credit: Indian Navy

NEW DELHI (PTI): Demonstrating excellent coordination in the last six days, the Indian and French Navies together ensured the safe release of 14 Indian hostages whose dhow (wooden ship) was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

"The close coordination between the two Navies helped in freeing 14 crew members of an Indian dhow 'MV Nafeya' after it was hijacked by pirates off Boosasso near Somalia at 1100 hours on July 10 by seven pirates armed with RPGs and AK47s ," Indian Navy officers said here.

The dhow, registered in Porbandar, Gujarat and operating in UAE, was hijacked by the pirates after it had dropped cargo at a Somalian harbour and was proceeding towards Dubai.

After capturing the Indian dhow, officials said, the pirates attempted to hijack a Liberian tanker ship 'MV A Elephant' near Bab-el-Manbeb on July 13.

"The attack was thwarted by a French warship belonging to the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), which was in the vicinity," officers said.

After failing pirates' attempts, the French warship started tracking the hijacked dhow and kept the Indian Naval ship, on anti-piracy patrol in the area, informed about the developments and both the ships tracked the dhow together, they said.

"The French attempted to board the dhow for investigation but they had to abandon their attempt as the pirates threatened to kill the hostages," officers said.

Anticipating a joint operation by warships of the two Navies, officials said, pirates forced the dhow to go close to the Somali coast and released it at 0300 hours on July 15 and managed to flee in their skiffs from there.

After being released, the dhow's crew contacted the Indian warship and sought assistance from the Navy.

After boarding the dhow with the French sailors, the Navy provided food, water and medicines to the 14 member crew, which was found to be safe. After the incident, the dhow is now heading towards Al Mukkalla in Yemen.

"These proactive actions taken by the Indian and French Naval ships demonstrate the value of combined exercises and operations undertaken by the two Navies in regular exercises," officers said.

Codenamed 'Varuna', India and France have been taking part in joint Naval exercises in the last few years.

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