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Govt advises Indian ships to be ‘extra cautious’ in SE Asia


New Delhi:  The government has asked Indian ships sailing in the Malacca Strait and South East Asia to be “extra cautious” and take necessary security steps in view of rising incidents of hijacking and robbery by pirates in the region.

The development comes in the wake of the International Maritime Bureau reporting incidents of hijacking and armed robbery in Malacca Strait — a narrow, 805-km stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra — and South East Asia.

“All Indian flag vessels are advised to be extra cautious and to take necessary precautionary measures when navigating in the area,” Directorate General of Shipping said in an advisory to ship owners, managers and others .

A number of vessels have been hijacked in the area and “pirates are normally seen targeting ships at anchorage. Pirates are normally armed with guns/knives and/or machetes and attack vessels during the hour of darkness”, it said.

The government earlier this month had said it has firmed up a contingency plan for dealing with piracy and hijacking of merchant ships.

It has constituted a Committee of Secretaries on Anti- Piracy and Hijacking at sea (COSAPH), under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary, for crisis management and to advise the government on major policy and strategy decisions.

According to an official data, 91 people had been held hostage over the last three years by Somali pirates and 89 of them have been released.

“To deal with the hostage situation arising out of the hijacking at sea of merchant vessels with Indian crew, an Inter-Ministerial Group was set up by the Government under the Ministry of Shipping,” Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan had said earlier this month.

The government has also initiated numerous steps to tackle and mitigate security measures to deal with sea-piracy which include banning of sailing vessels to ply in waters south or west of the line joining Salalah and Male and Naval escort provided by Indian naval ships in the Gulf of Aden.

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