One dead, four injured as Somali pirates clash with Puntland force

One dead, four injured as Somali pirates clash with Puntland force

One dead, four injured as Somali pirates clash with Puntland force

The European Union anti-piracy operation in the region says the pirates are holding the eight Sri Lankan crew members captive and demanding a ransom.

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.

Earlier on Thursday the Puntland coastguard had threatened to use force if the talks to convince the pirates to release the vessel failed. The hijackers told authorities that they acted out of protest and only seized the ship to rebel against illegal fishing in the area.

EU Naval Force sent a maritime patrol aircraft from Djibouti to overfly the tanker, trying to make radio contact.

Coastal Somalis, including pirates who quit as worldwide patrols increased and became fisherman, have complained of growing harassment by illegal fishermen and attacks by large foreign trawlers.

Somali security official Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan said the release came "without condition" hours after gunfire erupted between the pirates and Somali naval forces when a supply ship attempted to bring provisions to the pirates after a days-long standoff.

Naval forces have now boarded it and were escorting the ship to Bossaso port, the region's commercial hub.

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A Somali pirate who said he was in touch with the armed men, Bile Hussein, said the pirates moved the ship away from the coast after naval forces approached.

"We know from the owners of the ship that they have spoken to the captain and that the crew are all OK and they are safe", John Steed of the non-profit Oceans Beyond Piracy told VOA. The ships tracking system has reportedly been switched off.

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.

"These are fishermen who are infuriated with the illegal fishing off their coasts".

Somali pirates began staging waves of attacks in 2005, seriously disrupting a major worldwide shipping route and costing the global economy billions of dollars.

However, some smaller fishing vessels have recently been seized in the area.

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