The ship that the Indian Naval frigate INS Tabar destroyed in the Gulf of Aden last week was was in fact a Thai fishing trawler which had just been hijacked, even as the Navy insists that the ship was hostile with armed pirates aboard it.
Reports quoted head of the International maritime Bureau's (IMB) piracy reporting center, Noel Choong, as saying that one Thai crew member died when the Indian frigate attacked the trawler on November 18 in pirate infested waters near Somalia.
IMB said it received a report from the Thai trawler's owner Bangkok-based Sirichai Fisheries about the mistake by the Indian Navy.
One crew member was reported to have been rescued after finding afloat four days ago while 14 are still missing.
"The Indian Navy assumed it was a pirate vessel because they may have seen armed pirates on board the boat which has been hijacked earlier," Choong said.
Choong said Sirichai Fisheries found out about the mishap after speaking to the Cambodian sailor, who is in a hospital in Yemen.
Sirichaiekawat, the company's managing director, said the trawler was headed from Oman to Yemen to deliver fishing equipment when it was hijacked.
An Indian navy spokesman said the INS Tabor was responding to threats from pirates on board the ship to attack. ''Insofar as we are concerned, both its description and its intent were that of a pirate ship," he said. "Only after we were fired upon did we fire. We fired in self defence. There were gun-toting guys with RPGs on it," he added.