Suez Canal Head Says Egypt Studying Further Expansion of Waterway
CAIRO, March 4 (Reuters) – Egypt is studying further expansions of the Suez Canal to extend and complete a second channel of the waterway, the canal’s head said on Monday, a move...
By Vel Moonien in Seychelles,
The six crew members of the Sri Lankan trawler Lorenzo Putha 4, hijacked in Arabian Sea off of Somali on Saturday, arrived safely in Port Victoria on Mahé, Seychelles’ main island, on Wednesday morning.
They were escorted by the Topaz, a vessel of the Seychelles Defense Forces (SDF). On board the Topaz were the three Somali pirates arrested on Monday by special forces, approximately 180 nautical miles from Denis Island in the Seychelles’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
Recalling the ordeal, Francis Milroy Perera, owner of the Lorenzo Putha 4, stressed that if the Fisheries Department in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Navy had taken an extra day to request help from international maritime forces, the trawler would have been lost. In a press conference held in Sri Lanka on Tuesday to express his gratitude to the governments of Seychelles and Sri Lanka, Perera revealed that Somali pirates had hijacked an Iranian vessel and brought it alongside the Lorenzo Putha 4.
Perera added that the crew of the Iranian vessel were held on a dinghy. “Our sailors and the vessel were saved after a great battle,” he stated.
The SDF mentioned a gunfight that lasted for several minutes. Upon notification of the incident, Sri Lanka Navy contacted the Combined Maritime Forces based in Bahrain. The Topaz was patrolling the area with commandos from the SDF on board when it was tasked on Saturday afternoon to locate the trawler.
“We approached the boat with caution and discovered three Somali pirates on board. Despite their resistance and gunfire directed at us, it took us six minutes to gain control of the situation,” explained Major Hans Radegonde, the spokesperson of the SDF. “There has been a resurgence in piracy since last year. The pirates are operating nearer to Seychelles waters,” he confirmed.
The Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority (SMSA) has advised all boat operators and fishermen from the archipelago to exercise caution. They were encouraged to equip their vessels with an Automatic Location Communicator (ALC) or Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT), and a registered marine radio. This comes in light of noted piracy sightings and attacks in the northeastern sector of the Seychelles’ EEZ.
Colombo has now begun diplomatic negotiations with Victoria regarding the trial of the Somali pirates. A decision about their possible extradition to Sri Lanka is expected in the coming days. Meanwhile, Interpol’s assistance will be enlisted to identify the three Somali pirates.
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