India confirms safety of 7 Indian sailors captured by Houthi rebels aboard UAE shiptext_fields
New Delhi: External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly news conference that all 7 of the Indian sailors held hostage by Houthi rebels on board the UAE ship Rwabee were safe and that one of the sailors had been allowed to speak to his wife.
"We remain in touch with various sources, including through our embassies in the region. We do know that the captors allowed one of the Indian sailors to speak with his wife...on January 28. The sailor told his wife that all the crew members are safe. We will continue to monitor this case," he said.
The Houthi rebels were still denying officials physical access to the ship or its kidnapped crew, he added.
Eleven crew members, including the Indian nationals, of the vessel Rwabee were held by the Houthis when they seized the vessel Rwabee in the Red Sea. The rebels claimed the vessel was carrying "military supplies" and entered Yemeni waters off the coast of Hodeidah "without authorisation".
Both Indian and UAE governments have been vocal in demanding the release of both ship and crew. The attack and capture of the Rwabee occured shortly before a bomb attack in Abu Dhabi on January 17, which the Houthi rebels claimed was an act of revenge for UAE's involvement in the struggle for Yemen.
Besides the seizure of the Rwabee, two Indians were killed and two more injured in a drone attack by the Houthis on Abu Dhabi in January. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar condemned the "terror attack" of January 17 during a telephone conversation with his UAE counterpart.
The UAE has described the hostage situation as one of "armed piracy". The Indian government is in touch with multiple sources, including the UN Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement or UNMHA, to "enquire about the safety and well-being of our sailors as well as to reinforce our message to the Houthis that our sailors should be released at the earliest", Bagchi had said.