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Somali official says pirates open fire on local naval forces

17 March 2017

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.

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.

Authorities were then still trying to determine whether the gunmen, who have not given any details about the size of the ransom, were organised pirates or fisherman whose equipment was destroyed by illegal fishing vessels, as they claimed to be to a local official.

Pirates who seized a Comoros-flagged Aris 13 oil tanker have released the ship without conditions in the first seizure of such a vessel since 2012.

Families of the eight Sri Lankan crew members held captive by Somali pirates on an oil tanker tearfully pleaded for the men to be released unharmed, while the pirates demanded a ransom. The Master of the ship confirmed that his ship and crew were held in captivity by group of armed men at the anchorage off the north coast of Puntland.

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Puntland authorities said earlier that they will send forces to the oil tanker kidnapped by pirates at the coast under its administration.

Steed said the pirates had left the Aris 13 ship, which was on its way to the port city of Bossaso in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, on the northeastern tip of Somalia.

"They (the pirates) asked us to pressure our government (the SL govt.) to tell the Somali authorities to cease firing at the pirates immediately", he said.

The 1,800 deadweight ton 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.

Aircraft from regional naval force EU Navfor were flying overhead to track the ship's progress and to try to determine what was happening, he said. Eight Sri Lankan crew members were reported aboard. 'Foreign fishermen destroyed their livelihoods and deprived them of proper fishing'.

Somali official says pirates open fire on local naval forces