On Monday, Somali pirates hijacked an oil tanker that was carrying fuel to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. It is the first hijacking of a commercial vessel since 2012 and the armed men are now reportedly demanding a ransom.
The armed men are currently on the vessel and are reportedly holding the crew in one room. A statement from the EU Naval Force said they had made contact with the ship and that it had been confirmed that there were armed men aboard the oil tanker. The oil tanker, called Aris 13, was carrying eight sailors when it was approached by two small boats, according to John Steed, expert in maritime crime, conflict resolution and director of Oceans Beyond Piracy.
A Somali pirate who is reportedly in contact with the armed men on the oil tanker said the amount of the ransom had not been decided. The hijacking of the Aris 13 vessel is the first since 2012. It has been confirmed that eight Sri Lankans were on board the oil tanker when the men approached the vessel. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry released a statement, saying they were in contact with officials for more information to help ensure the crews safety and welfare.
Before 2012, piracy off Somalia’s coast was a big threat to ships in the area. Piracy decreased after more security was added in the area but it now appears to be returning with the first incident on Monday since 2012. A local elder in a nearby town has spoken to the AP and explained why men might be hijacking ships. He mentioned that the men have been sailing through the ocean in search of a ship to hijack since yesterday morning and that they found the ship and decided to board it. He added that foreign fishermen have destroyed their livelihoods and deprived them of proper fishing.
The pirates reportedly cut off communication lines after getting on the oil tanker but the EU Naval Force confirmed through a statement that they had made contact with the captain. The armed men are reportedly demanding a ransom but the amount has not been decided. The Aris 13 vessel was carrying fuel from Djibouti to Mogadishu at the time of the incident.