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* Somali pirates release hijacked oil tanker and eight Sri Lankan crew without ransom
Fri, Mar 17, 2017, 08:10 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 17, Colombo: Somali pirates who hijacked an oil tanker with eight eight-man Sri Lankan crew on earlier in the week, have released the ship unconditionally Thursday without any ransom payments bringing the first hijacking since 2012 to an unusually swift conclusion, Reuters reported.

The release followed a gun fire exchanged earlier in the day between the pirates and the Somali maritime police thwarting a bid to recapture the oil tanker held by pirates off the coast of Somalia. However following intensive negotiations between the marine force, clan elders and the pirates the ship was released without any unfortunate ends.

According to John Steed, regional manager of the watchdog group Oceans Without Piracy, the pirates were given an offer they could not refuse - live or die. "They were surrounded [with] nowhere to go, so pragmatism won in the end," he was quoted as saying to VOA.

A pirate has confirmed the release was made without a ransom payment. It has been reported that the pirates have agreed to forego a ransom after learning that Somali businessmen had hired the ship. Pirates have traditionally been wary of tangling with Somalia's powerful

businessmen, according to Reuters. 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. The Puntland government also reportedly granted them immunity.

The Aris 13, manned by eight Sri Lankan sailors, was carrying fuel from Djibouti to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, when it was approached by men in two skiffs and hijacked it on Monday off the coast of Somalia.

The Comoros-flagged tanker is owned by Armi Shipping SA and is operated by Aurora Ship Management, both based in the United Arab Emirates.

The hijacking was the first time Somali pirates had taken over a commercial ship since 2012.

 


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