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Destroyed pirate ship 'hijacked fishing vessel': IMB

Destroyed pirate ship 'hijacked fishing vessel': IMB

Mumbai: The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy reporting centre has said that the alleged Somalian pirate mothership destroyed by the Indian Navy on November 18 was in fact a hijacked fishing trawler belonging to Thailand's Sirichai Fisheries. The vessel, Ekawat Nava 5, had been captured earlier that morning by pirates and her crew of 16 were said to be onboard the ship at the time of the encounter with the INS Tabar (pictured).

"We can confirm that the incident has taken place. One Thai crew member died during the attack by the Indian navy, on the same day the vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates," Noel Choong, head of IMB piracy reporting centre told AFP. He added that only one of the remaining 15 crew members has been located at this point. The Cambodian national was rescued by fishermen in the area four days after the incident.

Although the Indian Ambassador to Thailand is in talks with the Thai Foreign Ministry about the situation, the Indian Navy has defended its decision to attack the vessel as it had proved hostile upon radio contact and had initiated the conflict by opening fire on the warship.

Images of the Thai trawler had been issued to coalition naval forces and other agencies after its hijack - standard procedure for captured vessels, but Choong admitted to the newswire that "the Indian Navy may have not received this information as they are not part of the coalition forces and we have no direct link with them." The IMB representative has encouraged naval vessels patrolling the region to obtain information on hijacked vessels, and link up with coalition forces to avoid confusion in the future.

"Hopefully this tragic incident will not happen again, and more importantly it should not hamper existing anti-piracy operation by the Navy," he said.  [26/11/08]