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Forensic tests on eight Somali pirates confirm age, facilitate Mumbai police custody.

Thursday March 28, 2024

Somali nationals, recently confirmed arrive under tight security at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, India, on March 23, 2024, following their arrest by the Indian Navy for the hijacking of a merchant vessel. SOURCE: India Navy

Mogadishu (HOL) - Mumbai Police disclosed that eight Somali nationals arrested for hijacking a merchant vessel are over 18, as determined by ossification tests. 

The procedure, determining age through bone analysis, found two accused to be 21 years old, while the others range between 19 and 20.

The individuals, initially claiming to be minors, are among 35 arrested following an Indian Navy anti-piracy operation on March 16, 2024.

Deputy Commissioner Sanjay Latkar stated the tests, which assess bone maturity, debunked their minor status, leading to their presentation in court and subsequent police custody till April 2, 2024.

The other 26 suspects were remanded in police custody until April 2, after a court ordered the police to produce the eight accused before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).

The group faces charges of kidnapping, extortion, and illegal assembly after commandeering MV Ruen near Somalia and demanding a $60 million ransom. A 40-hour Navy operation freed the ship and its 17 crew members without harm.

Police continue to probe the arrested individuals' roles in this and possibly other hijackings, aiming to dismantle their criminal network.

Recent months have seen a significant uptick in piracy and hijacking incidents in the Somali basin. With the end of the monsoon season, these activities are expected to increase, posing a heightened threat to maritime operations in the region.

EU Atalanta has identified several pirate camps along the coast from Xaafuun to Garacad, including a critical hotspot north of Eyl. This area is where the M/V Ruen has been moored for weeks.

The most common pirate tactic involves capturing a dhow to serve as a mother ship, allowing them to merge seamlessly with regular sea traffic. Utilizing this disguise, pirates launch attacks on vessels as far as 600 nautical miles from the East Somali coast, leveraging skiffs for rapid assaults.


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