Somali Pirates Release Oil Tanker, Crew Without Ransom

Image used for illustrative purpose. Pakistan Navy personnel keep guard near the Navy ship PNS Zulfiqar after it returned to Karachi

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.

"The Puntland maritime police force freed the ship".

At least one Puntland naval soldier was wounded after they exchanged gunfire with the pirates, but no confirmed casualties from the pirates.

The hijacking of the Comoros-flagged tanker Aris 13 was the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel off Somalia since 2012.

The tanker was forced to change course and head toward Puntland.

"We tried to intercept a boat that was carrying supplies to the pirates, but the pirates on the ship fired on us and so the pirate boat escaped", said Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, the director general of the maritime force of Puntland. But he said it is normal for pirates to send threats once they feel pressured.

Lim urged the Federal Government of Somalia, as well as its regional authorities in Puntland to take immediate action toward the safe release of the eight Sri Lankan seafarers.

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However, the local manpower agent who recruited the vessel crew Tyron Fernando said during a media conference held at the Ministry of Shipping that the pirates have not demanded any ransom as yet.

However, John Steed, a former British army officer who has spent years negotiating the release of piracy hostages in Somalia, told the AFP news agency they had been made an offer they could not refuse.

"They (the pirates) asked us to pressure our government (the SL govt.) to tell the Somali authorities to cease firing at the pirates immediately", he said.

But the pirates said they agreed to forego a ransom after learning that Somali businessmen had hired the ship, which was taking oil from Djibouti to the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

That year, Ocean's Beyond Piracy estimated the global cost of piracy was about $7 billion.

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.

However, some smaller fishing vessels have recently been seized in the area.

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