Seychelles frees Sri Lankan boat hijacked by ‘Somali pirates’

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Seychelles forces have freed a Sri Lankan vessel “hijacked by armed Somali pirates,” President Wavel Ramkalawan’s office said Monday, in the latest attack against shipping in the Indian Ocean.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have launched scores of attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden targeting Israeli-linked vessels in response to Israel’s war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

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International naval forces have been diverted north from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea, sparking fears of resurgent pirates exploiting the gap, with the first successful case of Somali piracy since 2017 recorded in December.

“Seychellois special military forces boarded the boat with utmost courage to take complete control of the vessel and rescue our Sri Lankan brothers,” the presidency said in a statement.

Colombo’s navy reported a hijacking at the weekend, saying that Somali pirates had seized the Lorenzo Putha-4 on Saturday, some 840 nautical miles southeast of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

The chief of the Seychelles defense forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette, said that “Seychellois authorities were informed of the attack on Saturday.”

“The boat is on its way to [the capital] Victoria or it will arrive at the port tomorrow,” he added.

It was not immediately clear if the vessel freed by the Seychelles forces was the Lorenzo Putha-4.

Pirate attacks off the Somali coast peaked in 2011 -- with the gunmen launching attacks as far as 3,655 kilometers (2,270 miles) from the Somali coast in the Indian Ocean -- before falling off sharply in recent years.

Last month, Somali pirates hijacked the bulk carrier MV Ruen.

The Bulgaria-owned and Malta-flagged vessel was seized by Somali pirates 380 nautical miles east of the Yemeni island of Socotra on December 16.

The pirates, who released one injured sailor into the care of the Indian navy, took the MV Ruen and its remaining 17 crew members to Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland.

With AFP

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