India intercepts hijacked Liberian-flagged vessel in Arabian Sea, navy says

NEW DELHI: Indian Navy commandos have boarded a hijacked Liberian-flagged vessel in the Arabian Sea and are now carrying out “sanitisation” operations, the navy said on Friday (Jan 5), without elaborating.

An Indian Navy warship intercepted the MV Lila Norfolk on Friday afternoon, less than a day after the navy received news that it had been hijacked off Somalia’s coast in the North Arabian Sea.

At least 15 Indian crew members were on board the vessel, which was hijacked near Somalia’s coast and the navy received information about it on Thursday evening, Indian news agency ANI, in which Reuters has a minority stake, reported earlier, citing military officials.

The warship INS Chennai was diverted and deployed to assist the vessel, the navy said earlier in the day, adding that a naval aircraft overflew the hijacked vessel on Friday and had established contact with it.

The Indian navy has increased its surveillance of the Arabian Sea after a recent spate of attacks in the region.

It said earlier this week that it had investigated a large number of fishing vessel and boarded vessels of interest in the region.

The hijacking of commercial ships and attempted hijackings by suspected pirates near the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea regions resumed in December after a six-year lull. Experts believe this is because naval forces led by the US have diverted their attention to the Red Sea to thwart Houthi attacks.

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