Pi­rates free tanker and Sri Lankan crew

New Straits Times - - World -

MO­GADISHU: So­mali pi­rates on Thurs­day handed over an oil tanker and eight Sri Lankan hostages cap­tured just days ago, the Oceans Be­yond Piracy said, bring­ing to a close the first such at­tack since 2012.

“The Punt­land mar­itime po­lice force freed the ship. They made (the pi­rates) an of­fer they couldn’t refuse and the pi­rates have left,” said John Steed, a for­mer Bri­tish army of­fi­cer with the non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, who has spent years ne­go­ti­at­ing the re­lease of piracy hostages.

Ear­lier on Thurs­day, the Punt­land coast­guard had threat­ened to use force if the talks to re­lease the ves­sel failed.

Armed at­tack­ers seized the Aris 13 on Mon­day as it made its way from Dji­bouti to Mo­gadishu, the first hi­jack­ing of a large mer­chant ves­sel by So­mali pi­rates since 2012.

Steed said the pi­rates had left the Aris 13 ship, which was un­der con­trol of the coast guard and on its way to the port city of Bos­saso in the semi-au­ton­o­mous Punt­land re­gion, on the north­east­ern tip of So­ma­lia.

Ab­di­rah­man Mo­hamud Has­san, the di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Punt­land mar­itime force, said ear­lier that a re­gional gov­er­nor, who was not named, had been ap­pointed to ne­go­ti­ate with the pi­rates.

The suc­cess­ful re­lease came after a fierce fire­fight be­tween the coast guard and armed men aboard a boat be­lieved to be tak­ing food and pro­vi­sions to the hi­jacked tanker.

“Our forces were do­ing a nor­mal rou­tine pa­trolling around the area when they came un­der gun­fire from th­ese gun­men who were on­board a small skiff and they re­turned fire,” said Has­san.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.