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Nov 20, 2008 at 10:42pm IST

Navy gets the right of hot pursuit in Somalia

New Delhi: Indian Navy could send more warships to counter Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden even as Somalia has permitted India to enter its territorial waters as part of an effort to check piracy.

Besides India, navies of US and France have also been permitted hot pursuit in Somalian territorial waters which extends upto 12 nautical miles from the coastline.

India is also considering increasing number of warships on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden from one to four after a request from the Ministry of Shipping.

A Delhi class destroyer has already sailed from Mumbai to the Gulf of Aden to augment anti-piracy patrol off Somalia raising the number of Indian warships on patrol from Salalah to Aden to two.

The 6,900-tonne Delhi class destroyers are the largest indigenously built warships till date and pack more fire power in them than frigates.

They carry on board two Sea King helicopters, along with a Cheetah or a Chetak, and stock 16 Uran missiles, 100mm AK 100 gun, four multi-barrel 30mm AK 630 gun.

With Marine Commandos on Destroyers, it would be a potent force when it patrols the Gulf of Aden to stop the pirates from attacking or hijacking merchant vessels.

The presence of the destroyer in the pirate-infested region of Arabian Sea will strengthen India's efforts to demonstrate its military power against the sea brigands, sources said.

The helicopters on board the destroyer are generally used for aerial reconnaissance by launching them from the ship's deck and the armed versions of the Chetak or a Cheetah can be used to scare the pirates away and also attack them when the need arises.

The Talwar class stealth frigate INS Tabar has been on patrol in the pirate-infested waters off Somali coast since November 2.

INS Tabar sunk a Somali pirate ship on Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden but that has not stopped the pirates from hijacking more ships.

But the Navy also says that no single Navy can commit warships indefinitely.

Meanwhile, pirates have hijacked a a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship MV Delight which has seven Indians onboard among the 25-member crew.

The ship is carrying wheat and the pirates have also made a ransom call but the amount is not known right now.

The Indians on board the ship have been identified as Rajeeb Behera, Abdul Jabbar, Clive Fernandes, Mahmood Aslam, Kamlajeet Singh, Raque Tapazzal and Shamsul Hassan Israr. All the Indians were sent by a Mumbai based company.

The vessel has been led to Ail - an anchorage site used by pirates.

The Delight is among three ships that were hijacked in the last two days, taking the number to 10 ships in just 11 days. At present pirates are said to be holding 18 ships and 330 hostages in the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen.

(With inputs from PTI)

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