Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Somali Pirates 'Demand Ransom' for Hijacked Oil Tanker

Somali Pirates 'Demand Ransom' for Hijacked Oil Tanker

The EU anti-piracy taskforce and experts have confirmed an oil tanker was hijacked off the coast of Somalia on Monday, raising fears of a return of Somali pirates after nearly five years.

Reports from organizations that monitor piracy could not conclusively identify which flag the ship was flying nor where it was owned, but Sri Lanka's foreign ministry confirmed that eight of its nationals were on board as crew.

This would be the first commercial pirate attack off Somalia since 2012, Steed said.

"The pirates hijacked the oil tanker and they brought it near Alula", said Mohamud Ahmed Eynab, the district commissioner for Alula.

Not only did the kidnapped tanker do so, other ships continued to use it even after the kidnapping, he said. "Whether this is a pirate attack needs to be confirmed. Despite hailing the ship several times, no contact was made and the situation on board remained unclear until late this (Tuesday) afternoon, when the EU Naval Force operational headquarters in London was able to make telephone contact with the ship's master".

"Without any pirate attack for five years, the number of assets and resources available to global naval forces are less than they were at the height of piracy", he said.

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At their peak five years ago, Somali pirates terrorised sailors crossing the Gulf of Aden. The International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Piracy Reporting Center (PRC) said that in 2016, there were just two piracy incidents off Somalia.

"Yesterday afternoon, the ship reported that it was followed by two skiffs".

"The local authorities up there confirm pirates have a ship they are holding and are holding the crew against their will", Steed said in an interview on Twitter. It came as a surprise to the global shipping industry as worldwide patrols had suppressed pirate hijackings for several years. The hijacking of the Aris 13 vessel is the first since 2012. It has lessened in recent years after an worldwide effort to patrol near the country, whose weak central government has been trying to assert itself after a quarter of a century of conflict.

The Ministry is taking action to verify the alleged incident, and initial enquiries have revealed that while the vessel involved is not registered under a Sri Lankan flag, it has a 8 member Sri Lankan crew. "Foreign fishermen destroyed their livelihoods and deprived them of proper fishing".

At the height of the power in 2010, Somali pirates were attacking dozens of ships each month and receiving multi-million-pound ransoms to release hijacked vessels and crews.

Pirates do not normally kill hostages unless they come under attack.

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