Somali Pirates Release Oil Tanker, Crew Without Ransom

Somali forces
Pirates hijack freighter off Somalia's coast, officials say
Author

17 March, 2017

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 ship was being monitored by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO), which coordinates the management of all merchant ships and yachts in the Gulf of Aden area, the head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Noel Choong, said.

The pirates told authorities that the only reason they seized the ship was in protest of the illegal fishing in the area that has threatened livelihoods, not for ransom, Mohamed said.

Puntland authorities said earlier that they will send forces to the oil tanker kidnapped by pirates at the coast under its administration.

Authorities are still trying to determine whether the gunmen, who have not given any details about the size of the ransom, are fishermen or organised pirates.

Steed says the worldwide community had taken significant steps to improve security, boosting naval forces in the area and requiring ships to take protection measures.

On Wednesday, the European Union anti-piracy naval force, which is helping to tackle piracy in the region, said the hijackers had been demanding a ransom.

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It was headed to port in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

A Somali pirate who said he was in touch with the armed men, Bile Hussein, said the pirates moved the ship away from the coast after naval forces approached.

"The ship reported it was being followed by two skiffs yesterday afternoon. They desperately need to show their grievances by seizing the boat", said Abdiwahab Ahmed, an elder in Alula. However, they are often harassed by illegal fisherman and large foreign trawlers off the country's north coast.

In their heyday in 2010, bands of Somali pirates hijacked almost 50 ships and captured more than 1,000 sailors, causing an estimated $7 billion loss to the shipping industry.

Many Somalis, including former pirates, depend on fishing to make a living.

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


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