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Indian Navy rescues hijacked bulker Ruen from Somali pirates

It remains unclear how the Indian Navy intends to process the pirates and whether they will be prosecuted in India or returned to Somalia

All 17 hostages freed uninjured from hijacked bulker Ruen on Saturday after a two-day, anti-piracy operation that saw Indian commandoes parachute onto the vessel and capture 35 Somali pirates

THREE months after Somali pirates hijacked the Malta-flagged bulk carrier Ruen (IMO: 9754903), Indian Navy commandoes have successfully rescued all 17 crew, capturing 35 pirates in the process.

Following a dramatic two-day naval operation that saw Indian commandoes parachute from special operations aircraft, the Indian Navy announced that it had “successfully cornered and coerced all 35 pirates to surrender... without injury” on Saturday afternoon.

The operation followed a stand-off over the weekend between a Indian Navy vessel, INS Kolkata, and the pirate-controlled Ruen which had made an attempt to leave Somali waters where it had been anchored since December amid drawn out ransom negotiations.

While it remains unclear why Ruen had left its previous base off the coast of Eyl, security analysts had suggested that the pirates were attempting to use Ruen as a mothership for further hijackings.

Ruen, however, had been kept under close surveillance by the Indian Navy ever since the initial hijacking on December 14 and the pirated bulker, owned by Bulgarian shipping company Navibulgar Shipping Limited, was shadowed by several warships and drones.

The Indian Navy intercepted Ruen 1,400 nautical miles from the Indian coast on Saturday.

While several maritime security reports claimed details of an extended exchange of fire between the pirates and INS Kolkata, the official version of events from India’s Navy insisted that only warning shots were fired “well clear of the bridge and accommodation block to coerce the pirates”.

At some point in the operation, Ruen was “incapacitated” with the steering gear now damaged to prevent the ship from heading back into Somali waters.

The result of the operation is that all 17 crew — seven Bulgarians, one Angolan and nine Myanmarese — were all rescued uninjured.

The 35 pirates were taken on board INS Kolkata where the navy reports interrogations are taking place. It remains unclear how the Indian Navy intends to process the pirates and whether they will be prosecuted in India or returned to Somalia.

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