Families plead for Somali pirates to release ship's crew

Trevor Jackson
March 19, 2017

Pirates have hijacked the Aris 13 oil tanker off the coast of Somalia, officials and piracy experts said Tuesday, March 14, 2017, the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel on the crucial global trade route since 2012.

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.

The Sri Lankan Minister said that for the first time, WhatsApp was used in communications and it was through WhatsApp that the Puntland President told him about the release early on Thursday.

Steed, who was involved in the talks that freed the Asian sailors, says the product on the hijacked ship and type of insurance the ship carries influences length of the negotiations.

Steed said an unknown number of people had been injured in the exchange of gunfire. Officials in Puntland sent local forces to assist in rescue efforts of the hostages on board the vessel.

Aris 13 had been anchored a few miles off the Somali coast near the town of Alula.

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'I think they have concerns about the Puntland coast guard's movement near Alula, ' said one fisherman, Abdirisak Shawke.

Somali pirates began staging waves of attacks in 2005, seriously disrupting a major worldwide shipping route and costing the global economy billions of dollars.

At the peak of the piracy crisis in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 boats were held. The attacks however fell sharply after crews put safety measures into place and regional naval forces stepped up patrols.

It was the first major hijacking in the east African nation in nearly five years.

The local authorities are investigating the root cause of the accident. "There's also a drought, so there's no food, no water".

A United Nations report seen by the AP in November said Somali pirates retain the capacity and intent to resume the attacks and lately have shifted to targeting smaller foreign fishing boats.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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