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Indian Navy seizes ship from Somali pirates and rescues 17 crew

(Reuters) -Indian naval forces including special commandos seized a cargo vessel that had been hijacked by Somali pirates, rescuing 17 crew members, a spokesperson for the navy said on Saturday.

The navy said in a post on social media platform X that all 35 pirates aboard the ship, the Maltese-flagged bulk cargo vessel Ruen, had surrendered, and the ship had been checked for the presence of illegal arms, ammunition and contraband.

The Ruen had been hijacked last year and the navy said it had intercepted the vessel on Friday.

The vessel may have been used as the base for the takeover of a Bangladesh-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Somalia earlier this week, the European Union naval force said.

The hijacking of the Ruen was the first successful takeover of a vessel involving Somali pirates since 2017 when a crackdown by international navies stopped a rash of seizures in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

Somali pirates had caused chaos in important global waterways for a decade but had been dormant until a resurgence of attacks starting late last year.

India deploys at least a dozen warships east of the Red Sea to provide security against pirates as Western powers focus on attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis.

At least 17 incidents of hijacking, attempted hijacking and suspicious approaches had been recorded by the Indian Navy since Dec. 1, Indian officials previously said.

(Reporting by Harshita Meenaktshi and Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru, with M. Sriram in Mumbai; Editing by Stephen Coates and David Holmes)