x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dhow is rescued from pirates

An Indian vessel that had been operating from the UAE will return to Sharjah on Thursday after being rescued from Somalian pirates by the French and Indian navies.

The UAE-operated dhow MV Nafeya, hijacked by Somalian pirates, is shadowed by a French naval last week.
The UAE-operated dhow MV Nafeya, hijacked by Somalian pirates, is shadowed by a French naval last week.

DUBAI // An Indian vessel that had been operating from the UAE will return to Sharjah on Thursday after being rescued from Somalian pirates by the French and Indian navies. The MV Nafeya was hijacked by a seven-strong band armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles on July 10, about 10 nautical miles off Bossaso in Puntland, the semi-autonomous northeastern region of Somalia.

The pirates held the 14 Indian crew members hostage, beating them and stealing their money and other valuables before leaving. "I am glad it has been finally released and will come back on Thursday," said Abubaker Haji, the manager of Haji Pir General Trading, the Sharjah company that owns the dhow. "All the crew members are safe but they had several problems as they were beaten and attacked by the pirates."

The dhow had left Dubai carrying a load of sugar bound for Somalia, and was hijacked on its return journey. Three days later the pirates used it to try to hijack a tanker, the MV Elephant, according to the Indian government's press bureau. That attack was thwarted by a French warship operating under the EU Naval Force that had been in the vicinity. At one point the French crew tried to board the pirated dhow, but aborted their mission when the pirates threatened to kill all the hostages on board.

Two days later, as French and Indian vessels continued to track the dhow, the pirates abandoned ship and escaped in skiffs. "Apart from action by the navies, there was less fuel in the vessel and the pirates had to abandon it," said Mr Haji. pmenon@thenational.ae