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Indian and Chinese navies rescue ship from Somali pirates

Indian and Chinese navies rescue ship from Somali piratesIn a joint operation on Sunday the Indian navy and its Chinese counterpart rescued a bulk carrier ship OS35 off the coast of Aden which was suspected to have been hijacked by Somali pirates on Saturday.

The latest pirate attack followed a string of attacks after years of calm.

Early on Sunday, the Indian naval ships managed to establish contact with the container ship's captain who, along with his crew members, had locked themselves in a strongroom onboard, as per stand operating procedures.

The Indian defence ministry said four of its navy ships in the vicinity responded to a distress signal from the ship and reached the bulk carrier early on Sunday.

"An Indian Navy helicopter undertook aerial reconnaissance of the merchant vessel at night, and at sunrise ... (to) ascertain the location of pirates, if still on board," the defence ministry said in a statement.

"Subsequently ... a boarding party from the nearby Chinese Navy ship went on board the merchant ship, while the Indian Naval helicopter provided air cover for the operation," the statement added.

China's defence ministry said in a statement a Chinese navy frigate on patrol in the area responded to the distress call from the ship, which it said had been hijacked by pirates. A helicopter conducted surveillance of the ship before 16 navy special forces soldiers were sent aboard to rescue the sailors.

It did not mention the Indian involvement.

The Chinese team carried out a full search of the ship along with the crew and ascertained the pirates had escaped under cover of darkness after their hijack attempt was foiled due to timely rescue operations mounted by international maritime forces in the vicinity.

The Indian defence ministry said all the 19 Filipino crew of the ship were safe and the captain of the ship thanked the Indian navy for their response and for providing air cover.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which coordinates shipping in the Gulf of Aden area, said on its website the pirates had used a skiff to approach the vessel.
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