Somali pirates hijack first commercial ship since 2012

Somali pirates hijack first commercial ship since 2012

Somali pirates hijack first commercial ship 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 NGO who has spent years negotiating the release of piracy hostages in Somalia.

It is the first ship to be seized since 2012.

Officials said local elders negotiated the release of the Aris 13 and that as part of the negotiations, the pirates were allowed to leave the vessel and return to shore.

EU Naval Force has said in a statement that "all available EU Naval Force assets are continuing to monitor the situation".

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Authorities are still trying to determine whether the gunmen, who have not given any details about the size of the ransom, are fishermen or organised pirates.

"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", said Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, the director general of the maritime force in Puntland.

Naval forces have now boarded it and were escorting the ship to Bossaso port, the region's commercial hub. The Master of the ship confirmed that his ship and crew were held in captivity by group of armed men at the anchorage off the north coast of Puntland.

It remains early to comment on the situation and the captives of the ship, but pirates threatened that they will defend themselves from everyone who attempts to force them.

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Aircraft from regional naval force EU Navfor were flying overhead to track the ship's progress and to try to determine what was happening, he said. The ships tracking system has reportedly been switched off. "They desperately need to show their grievances by seizing the boat", said Abdiwahab Ahmed, an elder in Alula.

The tanker was carrying oil and was flying under the United Arab Emirates flag, though reports about where the vessel originated had varied during the standoff. 'Foreign fishermen destroyed their livelihoods and deprived them of proper fishing'.

That year, Oceans Beyond Piracy estimated the global cost of piracy at about $7 billion.

However, some smaller fishing vessels have recently been seized in the area.

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