8 Indians held by Somali pirates freed: Officials

Indo Asian News Service

Mogadishu, April 12 (IANS) Somali troops on Wednesday rescued eight Indians who had been taken hostage two days earlier by pirates near the coastal town of Hobyo, officials said.

"Our forces have on Wednesday morning rescued eight Indian crew who had been held hostage by Somali pirates in El Hur area," said the Hobyo police chief Bashir Elmi.

"We have also arrested four pirates in the operation," he added.

Somali pirates have waylaid several ships in the past month, raising fears that piracy has regained a hold in the Indian Ocean, reported the New York Times.

The resurgence has been attributed to several causes, including drought, famine, corruption, a surge of smuggled weapons and the influence of the Islamic State militant group.

The recent attacks, including the hijacking of an oil tanker in March, are believed to have been carried out by buccaneers from central Somalia or from Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in the country's northeast.

According to Elmi, the hostages were taken after a clash on Monday between Somali forces and pirates over the Indian ship M.S.V. Al Kausar.

The pirates withdrew but took the eight hostages, leaving behind two other crew members.

"All the crew, including the captain, are now safe and healthy," said Abdullahi Ahmed Ali, the mayor of Hobyo.