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Pirates strike again, take 3 Indians hostage

Last updated on: January 16, 2009 15:57 IST

Pirates have hijacked a ship with three Indians on board off the coast of Kenya.

The navy said it will take all action to secure their release.

The Kenyan fishing vessel M V Alpha Manyara has an Indian captain and an engineer besides another Indian crew member on board and was hijacked on January 9, according to relatives of the sailors taken hostage.

"I am not aware if there were any Kenyans on board but according to reports I have seen, the boat had an Indian captain, an engineer and one more person and there may be some other fishermen," navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said.

He said the incident took place well outside the Gulf... it is fishing boat."

He said Indian ships deployed in the Gulf of Aden did not go for patrolling near the Kenyan coast.

"There is no patrolling that goes so far south and Kenya has always been well out of the Arabian Gulf region," Mehta said during his visit to the annual NCC Republic Day Camp.

George, brother of one of the hostages Palaswamy Sarvanan, who hails from Tamil Nadu, said the pirates were holding three Indians hostage after setting free eight Kenyan sailors.

"We were informed about the incident a day after the vessel was hijacked. After that, we have not heard from the company or the government. The company has declined to pay any ransom," he claimed.

Stolt Valor, owned by a Japanese company and carrying 18 Indian sailors, was released on November 16 by Somalian pirates after a huge ransom was paid by the owners.

A brother-in-law of Sarvanan said in Visakhapatnam that the last call they got from the sailor was on December 18.

Benoji, a family friend of Sebasitan Antony, one of the captives from Kerala's Kottayam district, said Antony's family came to know about the hijacking two days back from a Keralite working in a shipping firm. The third hostage is Thresia Fernando who hails from Dindigul in Tamil Nadu.

Though Antony's relations contacted company authorities, they were reluctant to provide the exact details, Benoji said.

According to Sebastian's relatives, the pirates have demanded a huge sum as ransom for the Indians' release.

Sebastian's brother, Bobby, said that he had sought urgent intervention of the Indian Government. He had faxed the request to the offices of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony, he said in Thiruvananthapuram.

Sebastian has been working as a plant engineer with Alfa Group in Kenya, which owns the vessel, for the last nine years, according to Benoji.His wife Tessy and two daughters are now home at Changanassery in Kerala.

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