Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Oil tanker hijacking: Somali pirates release ship and crew

Oil tanker hijacking: Somali pirates release ship and crew

"After we came to know that the Somali traders hired the oil tanker, we released it without a ransom", said representative of the pirates, called Abdullahi.

Security official Ahmed Mohamed tells the Associated Press the pirates have disembarked the ship, which is now heading to Bosaso port, the region's commercial hub.

Since 2012, although piracy has been largely contained, Somali pirates have continued to attempt to hijack ships, but less frequently.

This latest case of hijacking was the first of its kind to be carried out by Somali Pirates in five years, and saw the Aris 13 tanker captured while en route from Djibouti to the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

Yesterday, EU navy forces said the pirates have demanded undisclosed ransom from the owners of the vessel to release it from custody. "We fear for the lives of our loved ones", a tearful Makalandawa said after meeting with Sri Lankan foreign ministry officials.

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The Puntland President was involved as the piracy took place off his country's shores. Officials in Puntland sent local forces to assist in rescue efforts of the hostages on board the vessel.

Lt Commander CRP Walakuluge said that Aris 13 was vulnerable to piracy because it was sailing close to the coast to save on fuel and was also going slowly. Nur, the local elder, said that young fishermen including former pirates have hijacked the ship. The ship had been anchored off Somalia's northern coast, known to be used by weapons smugglers and the extremist group al-Shabab. The hijackers told authorities that they acted out of protest and only seized the ship to rebel against illegal fishing in the area. The pirates had claimed that they are fishermen whose equipment was destroyed by illegal fishing vessels.

A U.N. shipping database shows the Aris 13 is owned by Armi Shipping SA, whose address is listed in care of Aurora Ship Management FZE, a company based in the United Arab Emirates.

At the peak of the piracy crisis in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 boats were held.

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