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 EU force earlier made contact with the ship's master, who said his vessel and crew were being held captive anchored off the coast of north-east Somalia.

"The Puntland maritime police force freed the ship".

Naval forces and the pirates clashed earlier on Thursday.

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

The development came after negotiations between local elders and the gang that had seized the vessel on Monday.

The tanker was forced to change course and head toward Puntland.

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. An unnamed Somali official said the firefight erupted after authorities tried to intercept a boat carrying supplies to the pirates.

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Specifically, they should register with the Maritime Security Centre - Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), report to the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office in Dubai, which acts as the primary point of contact for merchant vessels and liaison with military forces in the region, implement IMO guidance and Best Management Practices (BMP), and follow the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).

"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 ship had been carrying fuel from Djibouti to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on Monday when it was approached by men in two skiffs and the tanker issued a call for help. The ships tracking system has reportedly been switched off. However, they are often harassed by illegal fisherman and large foreign trawlers off the country's north coast.

"They desperately need to show their grievances by seizing the boat", said Abdiwahab Ahmed, an elder in the coastal town of Alula.

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.

The Sri Lanka-flagged ship is owned by Armi Shipping SA and is operated by Aurora Ship Management, both based in the United Arab Emirates.

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