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Seychelles asks for naval protection from marauding Somali pirates

Seychelles asks for naval protection from marauding Somali pirates

Mumbai: Officials on the tourist paradise set of islands called the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean asked for protection after reports the bandits had moved away from the Gulf of Aden since western governments dispatched patrol vessels to challenge them, the UK's Daily Telegraph reported.

India sent one ship two weeks ago following an urgent request from the Seychelles, but Navy commanders have now sent a better-equipped vessel to replace it following the spate of recent attacks.

The attacks, which targeted a British-owned cargo vessel with a Ukrainian crew, and a French warship, took place inside the Seychelles' Exclusive Economic Zone.

India believes the pirates chose the Seychelles because it is relatively unguarded - it has just one fast patrol vessel with attack capability, which was in India undergoing repairs.

An Indian Navy officer said he believed the pirates were shifting their base to the Seychelles because its government did not have the resources to stop them.

The pirates can reach the closest Seychelle island in just over a day from Mogadishu - it is just 670 nautical miles.

Seatrade Asia Online caught up with a well-known Hong Kong shipowner two weeks ago who spoke about one of his ships had been attacked twice in the space of six weeks. The first attack happened 500 nautical miles from the Somali coast and the second was 900 nautical miles away. [08/05/09]