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Bulgarian President rings up Droupadi Murmu, expresses gratitude for naval rescue of hijacked vessel

New Delhi: President Droupadi Murmu on Wednesday received a phone call from her Bulgarian counterpart, Rumen Radev, during which the latter expressed his gratitude for the successful rescue operation of hijacked Bulgarian vessel MV Ruen by the Indian Navy.

Hailing the naval operation 'Sankalp', which resulted in the rescue of seven Bulgarians, the two leaders agreed to take relations between India and Bulgaria further.

"President Droupadi Murmu received a telephone call from President Rumen Radev of Bulgaria @PresidentOfBg, who conveyed his gratitude for the Indian Navy's rescue of the hijacked Bulgarian Vessel MV Ruen and its crew, including 7 Bulgarian nationals. The two leaders agreed to further strengthen the India-Bulgaria partnership based on shared values and interests," President Murmu posted on X.

On Saturday, INS Kolkata, deployed in the Arabian Sea, in a long-drawn operation spanning over 40 hours, thwarted the designs of the Somali pirates to hijack ships transiting through the region by intercepting the pirate ship MV Ruen. The merchant vessel had been hijacked in December 2023 and was under the control of the Somali Pirates until the Indian Navy intercepted it on Friday.

The Indian Navy, as part of its Maritime Security Operations, has been carrying out extensive surveillance in the region, including monitoring traffic in Areas of Interest. Based on the analysis of the surveillance information, the Indian Navy was able to track the movement of the Pirate Ship Ruen and directed INS Kolkata to intercept the ship approximately 260 Nm East of Somalia.

"INS Kolkata intercepted Ruen in the morning of March 15 and confirmed the presence of armed pirates through a ship-launched drone. In a reckless hostile act, the pirates shot down the drone and fired at the Indian Naval warship. In a calibrated response in accordance with International Laws, Kolkata disabled the ship's steering system and navigational aids, forcing the Pirate Ship to stop," the Ministry of Defence said in an official statement.

INS Kolkata undertook precisely measured actions while maintaining her position close to the pirate ship and also engaged in forceful negotiations, eventually resulting in the pirates surrendering and releasing MV Ruen and its original crew present onboard.

The efforts of the Indian Navy in the ongoing anti-piracy operation 1400 nm (2600 km) from mainland India were augmented by the deployment of INS Subhadra in the area AM 16 Mar 24, and also by air-dropping Marine Commandos (PRAHARS) by C-17 aircraft in the same afternoon.

The pirate vessel was kept under surveillance by HALE RPA and P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Due to sustained pressure and calibrated actions by the Indian Navy over 40 hours, all 35 Somali pirates surrendered on March 16.

All 17 original crew members of MV Ruen were safely evacuated from the pirate vessel without any injury. The vessel was been sanitised for the presence of illegal arms, ammunition and contraband. 

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