Somali pirates release oil tanker and crew after first hijack for five years

Thursday 16 March 2017

Staff and agencies in Mogadishu

Comoros-flagged ship and eight Sri Lankan crew are freed without payment of ransom after negotiations


Somali pirates who seized a Comoros-flagged oil tanker have released the ship and its eight Sri Lankan crew, bringing the first such hijacking of a commercial vessel since 2012 to an unusually swift conclusion without the payment of a ransom.

Security official Ahmed Mohamed told Associated Press the pirates had disembarked the ship, which is now heading to the port of Bossaso, the region’s commercial hub.

He said the release occurred after negotiations by local elders and officials with the pirates, who seized the tanker on Monday.

Naval forces and the pirates clashed earlier on Thursday, an official told Reuters.

“There has been discussion going on after the gunfight of this afternoon … We took our forces back and thus the pirates went away,” said Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, director general of the Puntland maritime police force.

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

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