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India brings back 35 Somalis to stand trial in India

The 35 Somalis arrested by the Indian Navy when it liberated the Ruen last week have been handed over to the Indian police in Mumbai.

India, which is now the largest national force in the Gulf of Aden and northern Arabian Sea region, captured the alleged pirates from the cargo ship Ruen, three months after it was hijacked off the Somali coast.

The Somalis face up to life in prison; they will be the first to be prosecuted under India’s 2022 anti-piracy law, which enables the navy to apprehend and arrest pirates on the high seas.

Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said that the Somalis were using the Ruen as their “mother ship” to launch attacks on other vessels. All 17 crew members of the Ruen were freed.

He said that India had responded to 18 incidents, deploying 21 ships and 5,000 personnel in rotation, boarding and investigating over 1,000 vessels, the navy said. “The task is to ensure that there is safety, security and stability” in the region, Kumar said, noting that “we are able to live up to the requirement of being a first responder and a preferred security partner… to ensure that the Indian Ocean region is safe, secure and stable.”

He added that India had “no quarrel” with the Houthis, although he also observed that during its mission since mid-December its navy had helped some of the attacked ships, recovering debris from drones launched by the Houthis.

He said that one recovered plywood drone was powered by a four-stroke engine and had a range of 1,000 miles. The electronics were elementary Kumar said, noting that “it doesn’t require very complicated tools to develop or manufacture these drones”.