Officials say pirates hijack freighter in latest test for Trump

Posted March 19, 2017

Somali pirates have hijacked an oil tanker of the Somali coast near to Puntland.

Security official Ahmed Mohamed said the pirates have left the ship, which is now heading to Bossaso port, the region's commercial hub.

However following intensive negotiations between the marine force, clan elders and the pirates the ship was released without any unfortunate ends. "We pulled our forces back and so the pirates went away", said Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, director-general of the maritime police force for Somalia's semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.

The gunmen are demanding a ransom to release the ship and its Sri Lankan crew, said the EU Naval Force.

Meanwhile, a special ceremony has been organized at the Bosaa-so harbor to welcome the Sri Lankans who were released by Somali Pirates after having being held hostage.

He said the vessel was not following the "best practices" put in place to avoid piracy, since it was taking a cost- and time- saving route too close to the Somalia coastline, was travelling too slowly and was without an armed escort. 'The ship changed course quite soon after that report and is now anchored'.

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

Global media reports had said that the pirates had demanded an undisclosed ransom for the vessel's return.

Since 2012, Somali pirates have continued to attempt to hijack ships, but less frequently. Steed said it was United Arab Emirates-owned and Sri Lankan-flagged, but the Middle East-based official said it was Greek-owned and Comoros-flagged with plans to re-flag it to Sri Lanka.

Piracy off Somalia's coast used to cost the world's shipping industry billions of dollars and was seen as a major threat. It is the first ship to be seized since 2012. It is not yet known is the pirates were professionals or just fishermen.

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.