India to Prosecute 35 Somali Pirates Arrested in Naval Operation

India has announced plans to prosecute 35 Somali pirates who were apprehended during a mission to rescue a hijacked vessel off the coast of Somalia on Saturday, according to a navy official.

The captured pirates are expected to be transported to India on Saturday, where they will face legal action. Previously, India’s focus was primarily on freeing hijacked vessels, often leaving disarmed pirates at sea without charging them. The specific charges against the detained individuals have not been disclosed by the navy official.

The operation, which led to the seizure of the Malta-flagged commercial ship MV Ruen, marked the first hijacking of a commercial vessel by Somali pirates since 2017. At the peak of Somali pirate activity in 2011, the global economy incurred an estimated $7 billion in losses.

Since December, India has deployed around a dozen boats to patrol the Gulf of Aden, aiming to prevent Houthi attacks on commercial ships associated with Israel. The Houthis, who control much of Yemen, have vowed to target ships in the Gulf of Aden until what they perceive as Israeli aggression in Gaza ceases.

Additionally, the Indian navy reported late Saturday that it had successfully regained control of the hijacked bulk carrier and evacuated its 17 crew members. The 35 pirates on board surrendered, and the vessel underwent inspection for illicit items, with the operation lasting approximately 40 hours and involving drones, navy vessels, and marine commandos.

The initial incident occurred on December 14 when pirates seized the vessel near the Yemeni island of Socotra, around 240 kilometers (150 miles) off the coast of Somalia.

Although Somali pirate activity has diminished in recent years, concerns have arisen over its potential resurgence amid political instability and unrest in the region, including attacks on ships by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. In a separate incident earlier in the week, a Bangladesh-flagged cargo ship with 23 crew members was hijacked off the coast of Somalia, prompting response efforts from the European Union’s maritime security force.

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