In a mid-sea operation that probably thwarted a 26/11-like terror attack, a suspected Pakistani fishing boat carrying explosives was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guards (ICG ) in the Arabian Sea off the Gujarat coast. Four men on board set the boat ablaze before it sank with them.
“An intelligence-based midnight operation was conducted on December 31 night by Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft to intercept a suspect fishing boat in the Arabian Sea near the India-Pakistan maritime boundary, approximately 365 km from Porbandar,” said a press release issued by the ministry of defence. The incident comes a week ahead of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2015, scheduled for January 7-9 and 11-13, respectively. The release said: “Four persons were seen on the boat who disregarded all warnings by the Coast Guard ship to stop. The occupants of the boat set the vessel on fire.”
According to intelligence inputs received on December 31 by ICG officials, a fishing boat from Keti Bunder near Karachi was planning some illicit transaction in the Arabian Sea. Based on the input, Coast Guard’s Dornier aircraft undertook sea-air coordinated search and located the boat.
“Thereafter, the Coast Guard ship on patrol in the area was diverted and the boat was intercepted at midnight of December 31,” the release said. Despite warnings by the ICG ship to stop, the boat tried to speed away. After a hot pursuit lasting nearly an hour, the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots, the release said. Following this, the occupants set the boat on fire and blew themselves up.
“Due to darkness, bad weather and strong winds, the boat and the persons on board could not be saved or recovered. The boat sank in the early hours of January 1,” the release noted, adding that Coast Guard ships and aircraft are searching for possible survivor.
Vigilance in maritime and coastal areas has been beefed up following inputs of threat from the sea.
The incident comes close on the heels of Pakistan Rangers targeting 13 border outposts in Samba sector in Jammu & Kashmir on January 1, a day after four Pakistani rangers were killed in a counter attack following the death of an Indian jawan in cross-border firing.