Two fishermen, one each from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in a fishing boat were on Wednesday shot dead by security officials of an Italian cargo vessel in the deep sea after being mistaken for pirates, an official said.
The Italian vessel was identified as Enrica Lexie and has been directed to come to Kochi for a probe.
The incident is believed to have occurred about 14 nautical miles off the Alappuzha coast.
A defence spokesperson said, "The Indian Coast Guard district headquarters number four has launched CGS Samar, CGS Lakshmibhai and an aircraft to pursue the Italian ship. The aircraft has since located the ship and has asked the vessel to come to anchorage off Kochi for detailed investigation."
"INS Kabra from the Southern Naval Command has also been put to sea for the operation," he said.
Fishermen in Kollam said the fishing boat, which left Kollam in Kerala a week back, was on its way back when the incident occurred.