Somali pirates release captured oil tanker, hostages

by Noah Mcgee March 17, 2017, 1:24
Somali pirates release captured oil tanker, hostages

In their prime in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off Somalia's coast, data from the International Maritime Bureau showed, and held hundreds of hostages.

Somalia's foreign ministry has said it is working to help ensure the "safety and welfare" of the crew members.

Naval forces from the semiautonomous state of Puntland and the pirates had clashed earlier Thursday after the pirates opened fire.

"If they do not get off, we shall fight to rescue the ship", he told Reuters.

The gang said they agreed to forego a ransom after finding out that Somali businessmen had hired the tanker.

The incident came against a backdrop of reduced piracy activities in Somalia.

"While we have seen a very welcome decline in piracy off Somalia since the last reported hijack by Somali pirates in 2012, the reality is that piracy off the coast of Somalia has not been eradicated and the underlying conditions have not changed", said Lim.

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MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) - Fighting between Puntland anti-pirate forces and armed pirates on Thursday broke out in Alula district in Bari region of northern Somalia.

It has lessened in recent years after an global effort to patrol near the country, whose weak central government has been trying to assert itself after a quarter-century of conflict.

Many Somalis, including former pirates, depend on fishing to make a living.

Salad Nur, a local elder, told the AP that the ship was anchored off the town of Alula. "Haabo is a bit more hard to get out, and so they may have felt it's a safer anchorage for them, maybe they'll have a better support where they can get additional guards", he said. However, they are often harassed by illegal fisherman and large foreign trawlers off the country's north coast.

The vessel was carrying oil and was owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite conflicting reports over the flag it was sailing under, he added. It was not immediately clear if the companies were still linked to the ship. Calls and emails to Aurora went unanswered.

Attacks by Somali pirates raged from 2005.

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

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