The Indian Navy and Coast Guard held the first major anti-piracy operation closest to India`s shores, sinking a pirate ship, rescuing 20 fishermen and arresting 15 Somali pirates, The Hindustan Times reported on Sunday, referring to the country`s Navy, according to RIA Novosti.

The anti-piracy operation was held on Friday near the Lakshadweep group of islands in the southeast portion of the Arabian Sea, the paper said.

The pirates had been active in the eastern parts of the Arabian Sea since last April after they hijacked a Thai vessel, Prantalay, and were using it as a mother vessel for carrying out a wave of attacks on merchant vessels, the paper said.

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INS Cankarso, an Indian fast attack craft, intercepted the mother ship 370 km off the Kochi coast on Friday evening but the pirates opened fire with automatic weapons in a desperate bid to escape. Prantalay burst into flames and sank after the navy retaliated with `limited fire in self defense,` the paper said.

Somali pirates have been active off Somalia as the country has had no functioning central government for two decades.