Somali pirates hijack first oil tanker in five years

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Somali pirates hijack first oil tanker in five years

A local elder, Salad Nur, told AP news agency by phone "more armed men boarded the ship", saying young local fishermen, including former pirates, hijacked the ship.

Somalia has lacked a functioning central government since 1991, when the dictator Siad Barre fell. However, the ministry pointed out that the vessel is not registered under a Sri Lankan flag. The fishermen in the area then chose to take matters into their own hands, in what they claim was a threat to their food supply.

-Until 2012, the commercial freighters that crawled past the coast of Somalia produced fortunes for pirates who held their crews captive for ransom. Sporadic attempts to hijack vessels continue to take place, though the limited resources pirate groups have access to these days don't stack up against the countermeasures they face.

Security forces have been sent to free the Aris 13, a regional police official said late on Tuesday. But the incident doesn't necessarily mean that the threat of piracy near Somalia is once again on the rise.

Lawellin argues that money is behind piracy. Eventually, NATO and other major trading countries, including China and Iran, rolled out warships, captured the pirates, and sent them overseas for prosecution.

"Today, it is organized crime."

Disputing the prior belief that the ship sailed under a Sri Lankan flag, the Navy spokesman said the ship was infact owned by a company based in the United Arab Emirates and sailed under the flag of the Comoros Island.

Since then, there was a drop in successful attacks, Lawellin added. "And when the opportunity came to take a ship, they've taken it".

"Hundreds of pirates were arrested, others gave up, and we hadn't had an attack of a commercial ship for five years", he said.

This is the first such hijacking in the region since 2012.

In the wake of the recent hijacking of tanker Aris 13 off Puntland, Somalia, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim urged the shipping industry to be vigilant and apply diligently IMO guidance and best management practices to avert possible piracy attacks.

But the United Nations warned in October that the situation was fragile.

It was not immediately clear who owned the ship or where it was flagged. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ended its anti-piracy mission off Somalia in December.

Measures to free the vessel being discussed at present.

He argues there is a need to shut down the "criminal networks" of pirates to really get at the root of the problem. It has lessened in recent years after an global effort to patrol near the country, whose weak central government has been trying to assert itself after a quarter of a century of conflict.

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