Suspected Somali Pirates Hijack Ship

Somali Pirates hijack Sri Lankan-flagged fuel freighter

At its peak in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of the Horn of Africa country, making it the global hotspot for maritime piracy, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Eight Sri Lankan crew members are onboard and the hijacking, which took place at around midday...

Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had contacted shipping agents and foreign officials for more information.

The ship is owned by a Panama-based company, Armi Shipping, and managed by Aurora Ship Management in the United Arab Emirates, according to the Equasis shipping data website.

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.

The Somali coast, as seen from an airplane nearing the airport in Mogadishu in 2015. "For IMB, this latest incident demonstrates that the capacity and intent to attack merchant shipping still exists off Somalia", said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB whose Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) has monitored world piracy since 1991. 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.

Somali piracy became a serious problem for the shipping industry in the early 2000s, turning into a major crisis by 2010, when the pirates were hijacking a few vessels every month - a total of 49 in 2010 and 31 in 2011 - and demanding multi-million-dollar ransoms to release them and their crews. "We will request the vessels in the area to look into the incident and the whereabouts of the crew", the spokesman said. They don't normally kill hostages unless they come under attack. "We have decided, as local fishermen, to resist illegal fishing".

Subsequently, EU Navfor reported that a chemical tanker had been attacked by suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia on October 22, 2016, though the crew had managed to successfully defend themselves.

"They have been sailing through the ocean in search for a foreign ship to hijack since yesterday morning and found this ship and boarded it", he said.

Abdi Guled and Jon Gambrell reported this story for AP.

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