Published: Fri, March 17, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

IMO Head Urges Vigilance Following Bunker Tanker Hijacking Off Somalia

IMO Head Urges Vigilance Following Bunker Tanker Hijacking Off Somalia

Somali pirates on Thursday handed over an oil tanker and eight Sri Lankan hostages captured just days ago, the Oceans Beyond Piracy NGO told AFP, bringing to a close the first such attack since 2012.

"The master confirmed that armed men were on board his ship and they were demanding a ransom for the ship's release".

The Master of the hijacked bunker tanker Aris 13 succeeded to get in contact with EU Naval Force, which is now operating in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia.

Officials said local elders negotiated the release of the Aris 13 and that as part of the negotiations, the pirates were allowed to leave the vessel and return to shore.

He said he contacted the chief of staff of the Puntland President and requested him to put a stop to the firing and they had immediately stopped firing at the oil tanker.

Ali Shire Mohamud, the commissioner of Alula district where the ship is being held, said the clashes started after naval forces tried to stop a boat carrying reinforcement pirates to the ship.

Nur, the local elder, said that young fishermen including former pirates have hijacked the ship.

In their prime in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off Somalia's coast, data from the International Maritime Bureau showed, and held hundreds of hostages.

"If they do not get off, we shall fight to rescue the ship", Hassan told Reuters.

The Aris 13, manned by eight Sri Lankan sailors, was carrying fuel from Djibouti to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, when it was approached by men in two skiffs and high jacked the vessel. "Haabo is a bit more hard to get out, and so they may have felt it's a safer anchorage for them, maybe they'll have a better support where they can get additional guards", he said.

Coastal Somalis, including pirates who quit as global patrols increased and became fisherman, have complained of growing harassment by illegal fishermen and attacks by large foreign trawlers.

Somali pirates began staging waves of attacks in 2005, seriously disrupting a major worldwide shipping route and costing the global economy billions of dollars.

Though anti-piracy measures ended attacks on commercial vessels, fishing boats continued to face assaults.

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