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Indian navy strike on pirates praised

First Posted 21:02:00 11/20/2008

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KUALA LUMPUR?A maritime watchdog on Thursday praised the Indian navy's destruction of a pirate "mother vessel" off Somalia, and urged other navies to follow suit and crack down on pirate operations.

In a battle that erupted as concerns over piracy soar, an Indian stealth frigate, the INS Tabar, opened fire on the pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden late Tuesday after coming under attack from gunmen on board the vessel.

"We are pleased with the action taken by the Indian naval ship. More naval ships should stop suspected pirate boats and check," said Noel Choong, head of the piracy reporting centre of the International Maritime Bureau.

"If we can't arrest them, at least we can confiscate their weapons, equipment and ladders that they use to board ships," he said.

"We hope more navies will follow suit and stop suspected pirate boats."

However, Choong agreed with other analysts who say that patrols by foreign navies will not be enough to close down the pirates who have stepped up their activities dramatically in recent months.

Destroying ships or confiscating equipment "is not the whole answer, as it is not a deterrent... it is just to disrupt their operations," he said.

"What is needed is firm action and a firm deterrent to stop the pirate attacks."

"That's why the UN and the international community has to decide what sort of deterrent should be meted out to the pirates under a legal framework. As long as there's no deterrent the pirates will continue to go out and attack ships."

In the Kuala Lumpur-based center?s latest tally, 95 ships have been hijacked so far off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, with 39 hijacked and 16 still being held with more than 300 crew aboard.

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