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March 14 (Reuters) - Somali pirates are suspected to have hijacked a Sri Lankan-flagged fuel freighter after the ship sent a distress call, turned off its tracking system and altered course for the Somali coast, a piracy expert told Reuters on Tuesday.
The Dubai-owned Aris 13 is believed to be carrying eight crew members, said John Steed of the aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy. Steed, a former British colonel, has worked on piracy for nearly a decade and is in close contact with naval forces tracking the ship.
If confirmed, the incident would be the first hijack of a commercial ship by Somali pirates since 2012, he said. (Reporting by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)