Somalia hijackers release Aris 13 and crew

Somali pirates who seized small oil tanker Aris 13 earlier this week have released the ship and its eight Sri Lankan crew without any ransom payment. A gunfight took place earlier on Thursday between the pirates and the marine force, which was followed by negotiations between the marine force, clan elders and the pirates.

“We pulled our forces back and so the pirates went away,” said Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, the director general of the maritime police force for Somalia’s semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.

A pirate confirmed the release had been made without a ransom payment.

Earlier the maritime police in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland had said they would attack the hijackers if local elders fail to persuade them to surrender.

The gunmen, who have claimed they are fishermen whose vessels were sunk illegally, hijacked Aris 13 on Monday and had been demanding a ransom to release the ship and its crew.

Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, director general of Puntland’s maritime police, told Reuters earlier in the day that the ship, which is docked near the port town of Alula, was surrounded.

Meanwhile, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has urged the shipping industry to apply IMO guidance diligently to avert possible future piracy attacks.

“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. Merchant shipping should continue to take protective measures against possible

piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean through diligent application of IMO guidance and Best Management Practices,” Mr Lim said.

Specifically, IMO said that ships should register with the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), report to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office in Dubai, which acts as the primary point of contact for merchant vessels and liaison with military forces in the region, implement IMO guidance and Best Management Practices (BMP), and follow the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).

Ali Shire Mohamud Osman, the district commissioner in the town of Alula, said that he was trying to determine if the gunmen really were fishermen or were organized pirates. “If we confirm that they are pirates, I will ask them to leave the area immediately. Otherwise, we will see how we can save the vessel,” he said.