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Indian Navy fears Al-Qaeda attack in high seas

New Delhi,Oct 10 (): Indian Navy has sounded a high alert to its warships about terrorist attacks in the high seas by Al-Qaeda following a bid to hijack a Pakistani missile frigate in September and use it to attack Indian warships and US naval refuelling ships.

The dossier that is put out by Al-Qaeda’s Indian subcontinent wing had stated that they hijacked the two ships but could not execute the plan as Pakistan in a counter attack had got back the ships. Pakistan claimed that it foiled a bid to hijack two ships that were docked in the Karachi port. Pakistani missile frigate PNS Aslat was hijacked with the aim to attack Indian Navy warships.

Indian Naval commanders, the sources said, had been asked to keep an eye on Pakistani warships moving in the Indian ocean, and also asked to be on the alert against strikes using fishing boats loaded with explosives.

After 26/11, Indian Navy has repeatedly conducted rehearsals for terror attacks on the high seas but now the threat of a Pakistani warship that might go awry and stage a quick attack is a new kind.

Al-Qaeda in a dossier released online said the aim of the two assault teams which staged an attack on Karachi was to seize PNS Aslat, a Chinese-built F-22 frigate inducted last year. The plan was to take it towards Indian waters to attack Indian warships using anti-ship missiles.

The second assault team was to seize the PNS Zulfikar, a F-22 type frigate loaded with 72 mm anti-aircraft guns to shoot down a United States naval refuelling ship that was to dock at the port after an exercise. USS Cole was attacked by terrorists using a small boat in a suicide bombing.

Meanwhile, Indian Navy officials said guarding against attacks in the Indian Ocean is difficult because there are many small ships operating and very few of them have AIS (automatic identification systems).

Indian Navy is not able to identify whether it is a fishing boat or a member of the Indian fleet. In the absence of AIS , Indian Navy will have to open fire on small boats that come near their warships that could result in deaths of innocent fishermen.

Indian Navy through DG Shipping had issued an order that boats more than 20 meters long should have AIS but many had ignored it citing expenses for this equipment. State governments too were not interested as they did not want to anger the fishermen community. The Indian Navy and Shipping Ministry have been conducting tests on methods to use radio-frequency identification and mobile satellite units.