Families plead for Somali pirates to release ship's crew

17 March, 2017, 00:59 | Author: Ora Austin
  • BREAKING: Pirates OPEN FIRE at navy vessels from hijacked oil tanker

Somali pirates on Thursday released a hijacked oil tanker and its eight-man Sri Lankan crew without any conditions or ransom payments.

John Steed, Regional Manager for the Horn of Africa at Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), Thursday on social media said Somalia's maritime forces have exchanged gunfire with the hijackers of Aris 13.

The European Union anti-piracy naval force made contact with the ship's captain on Wednesday and he confirmed the crew was being held hostage on board the ship, but no one had been killed.

The release followed a gunfight earlier in the day between the pirates and the marine force, and then intensive negotiations between the marine force, clan elders and the pirates.

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.

An official from the Somali maritime forces said: "We tried to intercept a boat that was carrying supplies to the pirates, but pirates on the ship fired on us and so the pirate boat escaped".

Eight Sri Lankan crew members were on board the Aris 13 when it was taken over on Monday.

He said the Puntland naval forces were dispatched to the area not to free the ship by force but to cut off any supplies to the pirates.

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"The pirates hijacked the oil tanker and they brought it near Alula", Mohamud Ahmed Eynab, the district commissioner for Alula, told Reuters on Tuesday by phone.

The ship had been carrying fuel from Djibouti to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, when it was approached by men in two skiffs.

The ship was anchored off the town of Alula, said Salad Nur, a local elder.

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

The 1,800 deadweight tonne tanker is owned by Armi Shipping, a company registered in Panama, and managed by Aurora Ship Management in the United Arab Emirates, according to the French transport ministry's Equasis shipping data website.

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

At the peak of the piracy crisis in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 boats were held.

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