Somalia ship hijack: 'Pirates' release vessel without ransom

Somali maritime police attempted to intercept a boat that was carrying supplies to the pirates but were fired at by the hijackers.

Aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy said in a statement late on Tuesday the ship was carrying gas and fuel and was not registered with the Maritime Security Center for the Horn of Africa, which registers and tracks vessels in the region.

The pirates seized the Comoros-flagged Aris 13 tanker on Monday, the first such hijacking in the region since 2012, and took it to the port of Alula in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.

Meanwhile, foreign media reported that the hijackers have demanded ransom to release the vessels and its crew.

Somali pirates on Thursday released a hijacked oil tanker and its eight-man Sri Lankan crew without any conditions or ransom payments.

EU Naval Force sent a maritime patrol aircraft from Djibouti to overfly the tanker, trying to make radio contact.

The European Union anti-piracy operation in the region had said the pirates had been holding the crew captive and demanding a ransom. It came as a surprise to the global shipping industry as worldwide patrols had suppressed pirate hijackings for several years.

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Residents near the ship confirmed hearing the gunfire.

"We don't have facts, but we heard perhaps they moved away from Alula because they received hostile reception from their locals and they felt under pressure to move", Abdirazak Mohamed Dirir, Puntland counterpiracy director, told VOA.

The 1,800 deadweight ton Aris 13 is owned by Panama company Armi Shipping and managed by Aurora Ship Management in the United Arab Emirates, according to the Equasis shipping data website, managed by the French transport ministry. 'Foreign fishermen destroyed their livelihoods and deprived them of proper fishing'.

At the height of the crisis in 2011, there were 237 attacks and the annual cost of piracy was estimated to be up to $8bn (£7bn).

Though anti-piracy measures ended attacks on commercial vessels, fishing boats have continued to face attacks.

Illegal fishing has always been used by Somali pirates as an excuse for attacks and Steed has in the past warned that the presence of foreign vessels emptying Somali waters could reverse the gains against piracy.

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