Somali pirates who seized oil tanker release it

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Somali pirates handed over on Thursday an oil tanker and eight Sri Lankan hostages just days after capturing the vessel, the Oceans Beyond Piracy NGO told AFP.

The director of Puntland's anti-piracy agency, Abdirizak Mohamed Ahmed, said they were not aware of any threats issued by the pirates against the crew. "They made (the pirates) an offer they couldn't refuse and the pirates have left".

Somali pirates have hijacked an oil tanker of the Somali coast near to Puntland.

He said he contacted the chief of staff of the Puntland President and requested him to put a stop to the firing and they had immediately stopped firing at the oil tanker.

The hijackers, who insisted they were fishermen, not pirates, said they wanted "compensation" for illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia, but did not make specific ransom demands.

Confirming the incident, Alula district commissioner Ali Shire Mohamud told local media that PMPF has laid a siege around the vessel and clashes erupted after PMPF forces fired at a small boat thought to be ferrying supplies to the pirates attempted to approach the vessel.

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On Wednesday, the European Union anti-piracy naval force, which is helping to tackle piracy in the region, said the hijackers had been demanding a ransom.

Gunmen in two skiffs hijacked the Aris 13 Monday off the coast of Somalia as it traveled from Djibouti to Mogadishu carrying fuel and gas.

It remains early to comment on the situation and the captives of the ship, but pirates threatened that they will defend themselves from everyone who attempts to force them. The ships tracking system has reportedly been switched off. 'Foreign fishermen destroyed their livelihoods and deprived them of proper fishing'.

A U.N. shipping database shows the Aris 13 is owned by Armi Shipping SA, whose address is listed in care of Aurora Ship Management FZE, a company based in the United Arab Emirates.

That year, Ocean's Beyond Piracy estimated the global cost of piracy was about $7 billion.

Illegal fishing has always been used by Somali pirates as an excuse for attacks and Steed has in the past warned that the presence of foreign vessels emptying Somali waters could reverse the gains against piracy.

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