2 suspicious ships caught off Gujarat coast, terror link suspected

Two suspicious vessels have been caught by the Coast Guard off the Gujarat coast in the last 20 days. Their crew is being interrogated for any possible terror links as they were carrying high-end Thuraya satellite phones, which are mostly used by terrorists.

Both these vessels had departed foreign ports and were not scheduled to enter any Indian port but claimed that they got drifted into Indian waters. This raised suspicion of the coastal security guards.
The two vessels were apprehended by the Coast Guard after its aircraft carried out extensive surveillance missions along the sensitive Gujarat coast with Pakistan.

On Jul 10, Indian Coast Guard’s Dornier aircraft, on surveillance mission, sighted an unfamiliar boat adrift at sea. Leaving nothing to chance, the aircraft immediately informed the Coast Guard Ship Samudra Prahari in the area for investigation.

The boat Al Bome Marize from Yemen was intercepted and boarded by Coast Guard Team at sea. Initial investigations revealed that the foreign boat with 3 crew from Yemen, 2 from Tanzania and 1 from Somalia, had developed engine problem on Jun 10 while operating off Yemen Coast and has been adrift since then.

The boat was thoroughly searched for any illegal contraband or consignment.

Thereafter, the boat was towed to Porbandar by Coast Guard ship for joint investigation by an interrogation team which is presently in progress to verify crew credentials. A Thuraya set along with two GPS sets was also recovered from the vessel.

In a similar incident, a Dhow MSV AL Ariz was intercepted by Coast Guard ship on June 22 while maneuvering suspiciously off Gulf of Kutch and not replying on VHF.

The Dhow loaded with sugar, cement, rice and five used cars had departed from Sharjah, UAE on May 21 for passage to Mukalla port in Yemen. The dhow with 11 Indian crew was investigated and then escorted by Coast Guard Ship to Mundra for joint investigation and rummaging.

During initial interrogation, crew said they decided to head towards Indian Coast for shelter due to inclement weather. AIS and Thuraya sets were switched off during the passage. The crew along with 10 mobile phones and 2 GPS sets have been handed over to police and custom by Coast Guard.

A thorough investigations and analysis by a joint team of Coast Guard, Police, IB and Customs is in progress.

Source: India Today

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