Govt. rejects pirates' swap offer, sends warship to Somalian waters

Toughening its stand on the Indian sailors hostage crisis in Somalian waters, the Indian Navy today sent a Talwar class frigate to the Somalia coast to deal with any exigency during ongoing negotiations, even as the government rejected the pirates' offer for a swap with captured brigands.

Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said the Indian government rejected the swap offer made by Somali pirates in order to get the abducted Indian sailors freed.

The Government, he told mediapersons here, would not bargain with pirates for the release of the sailors, and added that his Ministry was coordinating with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Home Ministry to ensure the safe release of the sailors at the earliest.

Mr Ravi's statement comes in the wake of reports that the spokesperson for the Somalian pirates had commented that the rest of the Indian sailors were being held to use them as bargaining chips in lieu of their colleagues arrested by the Indian Navy recently.

Meanwhile, the Navy today dispatched one of its warships, presently patrolling the Gulf of Aden, to the Somalian coast to provide any assistance needed during negotiations with pirates holding several Indians as hostages, according to officials here.

"In view of the deepening crisis where seven Indian sailors were still held captive by pirates despite payment of ransom, the Navy has put one of its warships on high alert and dispatched it to the Somalian coast," said officials.

While eight sailors of the 15-member all-Indian crew, held hostage aboard the cargo ship MV Asphalt Venture since September 2010, were released after negotiations, seven have been held back by the pirates.

The Navy has arrested more than 100 pirates over the past six months in various rescue operations in the Indian Ocean.

Just last month 61 Somalian pirates were arrested from the mother vessel Vega 5, the largest number held in a single operation.


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