Somali pirates release ship and hostages with no ransom

Mar 17, 2017, 01:21
Somali pirates release ship and hostages with no ransom

Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, the director general of the Puntland maritime police force, said: "There has been discussion going on after the gunfight this afternoon".

The development came after negotiations between local elders and the gang that had seized the vessel on Monday.

Local media reports that five to six people have been reported as injured as a result of the exchange of gunfire.

The hijackers, who insisted they were fishermen, not pirates, said they wanted "compensation" for illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia, but did not make specific ransom demands.

COLOMBO Sri Lanka (Xinhua) -Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweeraon said on Thursday that the crew members aboard the vessel hijacked by Somali pirates docked in the Port town of Alula were safe.

The oil tanker was seized on Monday while en route from Djibouti to the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

The European Union anti-piracy operation in the region announced late Tuesday that the armed men were holding the crew captive and demanding a ransom for the ship's release. It came as a surprise to the global shipping industry as worldwide patrols had suppressed pirate hijackings for several years. The Master of the ship confirmed that his ship and crew were held in captivity by group of armed men at the anchorage off the north coast of Puntland.

Hours before leaving the ship, the pirates opened fire at security forces from the Somali semi-autonomous state of Puntland.

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.

"We know from the owners of the ship that they have spoken to the captain and that the crew are all OK and they are safe", John Steed of the non-profit Oceans Beyond Piracy told VOA.

The gunmen have told a local official that they are fishermen whose equipment was destroyed by illegal fishing vessels. Eight Sri Lankan crew members were reported aboard.

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.