NEW DELHI -- The Indian external affairs ministry has denied reports that 20 Indian nationals died in Yemen after air strikes there. In fact, the ministry said today that 13 of these Indians are alive, while seven are still missing.
Reuters had reported yesterday that a Saudi-led alliance had killed at least 20 Indian nationals in air strikes on fuel smugglers at a Yemeni port on Tuesday, quoting local fishermen. The agency reported that two boats used by Indian fuel smugglers had been struck at al-Khokha in westen Yemen, killing 20 of them.
"We have seen media reports about the death of Indian nationals in Yemen," said Vikas Swarup, the MEA spokesperson. "The boats were carrying a total of 20 Indian crew members of which 13 are alive and 7 are reported missing."
According to the MEA, the boats came under aerial bombardment on Tuesday afternoon. No other information is currently available with the ministry regarding the identities of these Indian nationals. Indian Embassy officials in Djbouti are in touch with local contacts, said Swarup, and they have ascertained that one of the boats was plying between Berbera (Somalia) and Mokha (Yemen).
"Embassy officials are in constant touch with local authorities and are also due to meet with the boat owner today at which point of time more information would be available,” he said.