Somali pirates in the biggest hijacking ever, captured 8 boats taking nearly 120 Indian sailors hostage. The sailors were on their way from Somalia to Dubai, media reports say.
Relatives of the sailors have appealed to the Indian government for help in securing their release. Sources said the hijacked Indian vessels have been traced near Seychelles.
The sailors belong to the Saurashtra and Kutch regions of Gujarat. They had anchored last in the rebel territory of Kismayo in Somalia where they loaded cargo into their boats. But moments after leaving the port, pirates captured them. So far, the pirates have not asked for any ransom.
Sources in the Indian Navy have confirmed the news of the hijack and have said efforts are on in full swing to contact the pirates and get the Indians back safely, reports Times Now news channel.
India has remained a target within the pirates' radar. Somali Pirates have many a time attacked Indian ships and taken Indians crew members hostage.
On December 23 last year, an Indian ship named M T Agrasen was attacked by armed pirates just 300 nautical miles off the Indian coast of Maharashtra. The 41 member crew, however, managed to fight off the attack and thwart the attempted seige.
On December 15, pirates seized Indian vessel Laxmi Sagar off the Somalian coast and took 10 members on board hostage.
Indians were taken hostage on October 24 along with two Burmese nationals when a Panama flagged ship Al Khaliq was hijacked. The ship was however released later after receiving a ransom of 3.1 million dollars.
In September 2008, a merchant ship, MT Stolt Valor was hijacked along with 18 Indian sailors on aboard. However, after intense government pressure, the ship was finally released after a 60-day ordeal.