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    6 Sri Lankan fishermen rescued from ship hijacked by Somali pirates by Seychelles Defense Forces

    The Seychelles’ defense forces and coast guard on Monday rescued six Sri Lankan fishermen whose vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates two days earlier, the Seychelles president’s office said.

    The Seychelles Defense Forces Special Forces and coast guard “led a successful operation to regain control of a Sri Lankan vessel hijacked by armed Somali pirates,” the president’s office said in a statement.

    The three hijackers were arrested, and the fishermen and their boat are safe and are being taken to the Seychelles, according to Susantha Kahawatta, a top official in the Fisheries Department of Sri Lanka, who said he was told of the men’s rescue by the Sri Lankan envoy to the Seychelles.


    The hijacking came two weeks after Sri Lanka said it would join a U.S.-led operation to protect merchant vessels sailing in the Red Sea against attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels. Other suspected hijackings in waters off Somalia have raised concern that Somali pirates have resumed activity a decade after they caused chaos in international shipping.

    The piracy occurred in international waters about 840 nautical miles east of Somalia, 1,100 nautical miles from Sri Lanka and north of the Seychelles, according to Sri Lankan navy spokesperson Capt. Gayan Wickramasuriya.

    Sri Lankan officials had informed all the countries in the region about the hijacking.

    The Iranian fishing vessel Iman is photographed off the Somali coast, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (Indian Navy via AP)

    “The Seychelles coast guard was also on alert and when the hijackers entered their waters, the Seychelles coast guard arrested the hijackers, took control of the boat and released the fishermen and the vessel, which are now being taken to a port in the Seychelles,” Kahawatta said.

    On Saturday, an armed group arrived in an area where about 30 Sri Lankan vessels were fishing. Two to three armed men who had arrived in a 75-foot vessel boarded the fishing trawler, fired shots apparently to warn away the other fishing boats and took away the trawler and the fishermen, Kahawatta said.

    The details of the abduction were provided by fishermen in the other trawlers who identified the attackers as Somali, Kahawatta said.

    Earlier Monday, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said it was talking with Somali authorities to ascertain the whereabouts of the fishing vessel and its six crewmembers.

    Sri Lanka’s navy said two weeks ago it would provide a ship to protect merchant ship traffic, but the date hasn’t been set and the area Sri Lanka will patrol hasn’t been finalized.

    Meanwhile, the Indian navy said Monday it freed an Iranian fishing vessel that was hijacked by pirates off the east coast of Somalia.

    India’s navy wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the fishing vessel named Iman had been boarded by pirates and its crew taken hostage. It said the naval force freed all 17 crew members along with the boat.

    The fishing vessel was later “released for onward transit,” the navy said.


    The Indian navy did not immediately say what had happened to the pirates responsible for the hijacking.

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