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Navy evacuates around 350 Indians stranded in strife-torn Yemen

NEW DELHI(PTI): Around 350 stranded Indians were evacuated on Wednesday from strife-torn Yemen’s Aden city on an Indian Naval ship that will now take them to Djibouti, a country neighbouring Yemen and across the Red Sea.

Iraqi men demonstrate in Baghdad, to show support for Yemen`s Shi`ite Houthis and in protest of an air campaign in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition, March 31, 2015. Saudi troops clashed with Yemeni Houthi fighters on Tuesday in the heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the start of a Saudi-led air offensive last week, while Yemen`s foreign minister called for a rapid Arab intervention on the ground.

Iraqi men demonstrate in Baghdad, to show support for Yemens Shiite Houthis and in protest of an air campaign in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition, March 31, 2015. Saudi troops clashed with Yemeni Houthi fighters on Tuesday in the heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the start of a Saudi-led air offensive last week, while Yemens foreign minister called for a rapid Arab intervention on the ground.

The evacuation operation took place in dark night conditions amid the escalating violence in Yemen.

“INS Sumitra has left the Aden harbour and around 350 Indians embarked on the ship,” Defence sources said.

Evacuation took place after India tonight got permission to dock its ship at the Aden harbour as the government launched a massive air and sea evacuation operation for its over 4,000 nationals in Yemen.

Two warships have been pressed into service besides two passenger ships while the Indian Air Force has put on stand-by two C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.

Air India has stationed two 180-seater Airbus A320 planes in Muscat for evacuation of Indians from Yemen’s capital Sanaa to Djibouti whenever a clearance is given by the concerned authorities.

Meanwhile, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, in a series of tweets said, “Sailing away from troubles. INS Sumitra set sail for Djibouti late last night from Aden with 348 Indian nationals evacuated from Yemen. INS Sumitra to reach Djibouti with Indians evacuated from Yemen by mid-day. Arrangements in place to receive them there.”

The Defence sources said four ships, including destroyer INS Mumbai and stealth frigate INS Tarkash — will reach Yemen by Saturday. Two merchant vessels – Kavaratti and Coral – have also been dispatched.

The four ships are to join each other in Arabian Sea on April 2 and proceed as a composite group to Djibouti.The two 180-seater aircraft dispatched by Air India yesterday remain stuck in the Oman capital Muscat due to want of clearance from the authorities.

Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh headed for Djibouti to oversee the evacuation exercise christened ‘Operation Raahat’.

Saudi-led coalition warplanes pounded Yemen’s Shiite rebels for a sixth day today, destroying missiles and weapons depots and for the first time using warships to bomb the rebel-held airport and eastern outskirts of the port city of Aden.

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