News Worms
News Worms


Somali pirates fire shots on maritime forces

Somali pirates fire shots on maritime forces

The bunkering tanker - the first commercial vessel hijacked off the Somali coast since 2012 - has a crew of eight Sri Lankan sailors who it is believed are still being held captive.

Aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy said in a statement late on Tuesday the ship was carrying gas and fuel and was not registered with the Maritime Security Center for the Horn of Africa, which registers and tracks vessels in the region.

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 Aris 13 was about 18km off the Somali coast when it was attacked, according to Steed.

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.

Somali security official Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan said the release came "without condition" hours after gunfire erupted between the pirates and Somali naval forces when a supply ship attempted to bring provisions to the pirates after a days-long standoff.

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

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry has confirmed that eight of its nationals are on board the vessel.

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.

"The EU Naval Force has now passed the information regarding the incident to the ship's owners", EU Navfor said.

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

"The ship reported it was being followed by two skiffs yesterday afternoon".

Illegal fishing has always been used by Somali pirates as an excuse for attacks and Steed has in the past warned that the presence of foreign vessels emptying Somali waters could reverse the gains against piracy. "They are being held under guard in a single compartment in the ship".

The gunmen have told a local official that they are fishermen whose equipment was destroyed by illegal fishing vessels.

A United Nations report seen by the AP in November said Somali pirates retain the capacity and intent to resume the attacks and lately have shifted to targeting smaller foreign fishing boats.

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

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