Pakistan arrests 40 Indian fishermen

Pakistan's maritime security agency has arrested at least 40 Indian fishermen after they strayed into its territorial waters, an official said Friday.

The fishermen were held on Thursday after sailing deep into Pakistani waters, though 30 have since been released, an official from Pakistan's Maritime Security Agency (MSA) told AFP.

The detentions came a month after Pakistan held 58 Indian fishermen in similar circumstances, and two months after more than 300 were released from Pakistani jails as a goodwill gesture.

"They illegally came 30 to 35 nautical miles deep into Pakistani territorial waters and we arrested them," commander Mohammad Farooq said.

"On humanitarian grounds we set 30 old fishermen free there in line of our policy to not arrest children and old fishermen."

The fishermen were handed over to the police for further legal proceedings that generally mean months or even years in prison.

Such arrests are frequently carried out by both countries, as the maritime border in the Arabian Sea is poorly defined and many fishing boats lack the technology needed to be certain of their precise location.

The fishermen often languish in jail even after serving their term, as poor diplomatic ties between the two archrivals mean fulfilling official requirements can take a long time.

In late August, 337 Indian fishermen, including seven juveniles, held by Pakistan for violation of its territorial waters were set free from a district jail.