M A I N   N E W S

Aden Attack
Did we sink the wrong boat?
It was a Thai fishing trawler, confirms maritime bureau

Kuala Lumpur, November 26
A suspected pirate vessel that was destroyed by Indian Navy last week in the Gulf of Aden was in fact a Thai fishing trawler which had been hijacked, the International Maritime Bureau confirmed on Wednesday. Noel Choong, head of the IMB’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur said one Thai crew member died when the Indian frigate ‘INS Tabar’ attacked the trawler on November 18 in waters near Somalia, which is infested with pirates.



It was pirate ship: Navy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
The Indian navy today made it clear that its seamen had fired at a vessel that was being used by pirates at the time it was shot at late in the evening on November 18 near the Gulf of Aden area. Also the firing was carried out in retaliation and after well-armed pirates first fired at the warship INS Tabar and threatened to blow it up.

This Thailand government has asked the Indian government to explain the matter.

Though the international maritime officials have confirmed that a fishing boat owned by a Thailand-based company Sirichai fisheries had been hijacked by pirates on the morning of November 18, it seems that pirates were using the boat when it encountered the Indian warship. It was no more under the control of the fishing company or its crew. Thai ship, which was flying a flag from the tiny Pacific nation of Kiribati operated out of Thailand.

Today Navy spokesperson Commander Nirad Sinha said “We are convinced we acted against pirates. The ball of fire that erupted after explosions that took place on the quarter deck, the middle portion and the rear end are proof of the volume of explosives the ship was carrying.

Also the entire issue raises several questions that justify the Indian Navy’s act at high seas said sources. Firstly, if the ship that was shot at by the Navy and the ship that was hijacked are the same then how did so much of ammunition reach it in the middle of the sea? The ship was 280 nautical miles off the coast there was no way that pirates using small speed boats ferried in so much ammunition within a matter of a few hours of hijacking it. Also when the INS Tabar asked the pirate ship to stop, it took an offensive posture and fired at the war ship? if it was a fishing vessel then who fired ? If hostages were on board the normal reaction of any hijacker would be to tell about hostages to make the Naval ship back off ? There was no such claim by the hijackers.

The entire communication between the INS Tabar and pirate ship was conducted using the maritime communication channel that can be heard by other ships sailing within the area.

India is one of several countries currently patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, amid increasing attacks by Somali pirates.

Neol Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, claimed the vessel shot down by the Navy was the Ekawat Nava 5. The Indian navy assumed it was a pirate vessel because they may have seen armed pirates on board the boat, which had been hijacked earlier, he was quoted as having said by TV channels. A senior Naval officer countered this saying pirates used hijacked ships only and did not purchase ships.

The IMB sent an alert to other multi-coalition patrol vessels but Choong said it was unclear whether the Indian vessel had received it as it had no direct IMB links.

The issue of a hijacked Thai fishing boat being shot down was raised by Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, the owner of the vessel. He told reporters in Bangkok and was quoted on news channels as having said he had learnt the fate of his trawler from a Cambodian crew member, who had survived the bombardment and had been rescued by a passing ship after six days adrift in the Indian Ocean. As many as 14-crew members are missing while another one who escaped with the Cambodian had died. The surviving sailor was now recovering in a hospital in Yemen, he said. The survivor said all crew was tied up except the captain and translator.



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