NAIROBI, March 15 Armed pirates off the coast of
Somalia who hijacked an oil tanker with eight Sri Lankan crew on
board are demanding a ransom for the release of the vessel, the
EU Naval Force said.
The pirates seized the Comoros-flagged Aris 13 tanker on
Monday, the first such hijacking in the region since 2012.
"The EU Naval Force ... has received positive confirmation
from the master of ... Aris 13, that his ship and crew are
currently being held captive by a number of suspected armed
pirates in an anchorage off the north coast of Puntland, close
to Alula," the force said in a statement late on Tuesday.
Puntland is a semi-autonomous northern region of Somalia.
Alula is a port town there where pirates have taken the tanker.
EU Navfor said as soon as it received an alert on the ship's
seizure, it sent patrol aircraft from its Djibouti base to try
to make radio contact with the ship, and only late on Tuesday
did its headquarters in London reach the vessel's master by
"The master confirmed that armed men were on board his ship
and they were demanding a ransom for the ship’s release. The EU
Naval Force has now passed the information regarding the
incident to the ship’s owners," EU Navfor said.
The 1,800 deadweight tonne Aris 13 is owned by Panama
company Armi Shipping and managed by Aurora Ship Management in
the United Arab Emirates, according to the Equasis shipping data
website, managed by the French transport ministry.
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.
That year, aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy estimated the
global cost of piracy at about $7 billion. The shipping industry
bore roughly 80 percent of those costs, the group's analysis
However attacks fell off sharply after ship owners tightened
security and vessels stayed farther away from the Somali coast.
(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Nick Macfie)