The Indian navy and coast guard captured 16 Somali pirates and rescued 16 hostages after a three-hour running battle in the Arabian Sea, according to media reports.
The Indian Navy ship Suvarna and Coast Guard ship Sangram intercepted on Saturday a pirate mother vessel called Morteza, an Iranian trawler hijacked by the pirates off the Lakshadweep Islands, a navy spokesman said.
Pirates from the Morteza were attempting to capture the UK-flag Maersk Kensington, when the coast guard and navy ships picked up its distress signals and went to its aid. This was the fourth time this year the Indian Navy has captured Somali pirates in the waters off India.
The pirates opened fire as the Sangram approached the Morteza, triggering a battle during which the pirate trawler caught fire. The pirates and the hostages, picked up from the sea by the navy ship, were headed for Mumbai.
Of the 16 hostages, 12 are Iranians and four are Pakistanis, the navy spokesman said.
"The pirates will be handed over to the Mumbai police for prosecution. The crew members will be questioned to establish their credentials and then handed over to their embassy officials," the spokesman said.
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