NEW DELHI – A fishing vessel that blew up off in India was linked to Pakistani drug smugglers, an Indian news report said Monday.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]
However, the defence minister maintained that the crews were likely terrorists.
A report said the boat, which was stopped on Friday, had a history of carrying contraband for a cartel based in southern Pakistan’s Balochistan province, citing unnamed Pakistani counter-narcotics investigators.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]
The report said it allegedly worked for a cartel led by Mir Bizenjo, named by the U.S. in 2009 as a leading player in the cross-border narcotics trade.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]
The mother of the alleged captain told newsmen that she had heard about the boat’s destruction, but not of her son’s death, speaking from their home near Karachi, a large Pakistani port just east of Balochistan.
In New Delhi, India’s Defence Minister, Manohar Parikkar said on Monday that it was unlikely that the crew were smugglers.
Parikkar said that the boat fled towards Pakistani waters when it was hailed by the Coast Guard.
The Defence Ministry said after an hour’s pursuit and several warning shots it stopped, the crew disappeared below deck, and an explosion was followed by an extensive fire on board.
“I think they were suspected terrorists, as they committed suicide, a normal boat even carrying drugs can surrender.
The boat was under surveillance for the previous 12 hours and did not take the normal sea route.
“Smugglers normally take the busy route so that they can mingle with other boats,’’ he told reporters on the sidelines of a function
Members of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party said the Coast Guard may have foiled a major terrorist attack.
In 2008, 166 people were killed in a terrorist attack on the city of Mumbai by 10 gunmen who came by sea from Karachi. (dpa/NAN)