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17 March 2017, 01:24 | Violet Powell
SOMALIAN PIRATES The thugs seized the Aris-13 oil tanker
Meanwhile, an worldwide news agency quoted the head of the Puntland maritime force as saying that they had exchanged gunfire with the hijackers of an oil tanker in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, the director general of the Puntland maritime force, said earlier that a regional governor, who was not named, had been appointed to negotiate with the pirates.
A pirate claimed the hijackers had killed a member of the marine force and injured another, but Mr Hassan said that was untrue.
Somali pirates handed over on Thursday an oil tanker and eight Sri Lankan hostages just days after capturing the vessel, the Oceans Beyond Piracy NGO told AFP.
Steed says the global community had taken significant steps to improve security, boosting naval forces in the area and requiring ships to take protection measures.
The European Union anti-piracy operation in the region announced on Tuesday that the armed men were holding the crew captive - and demanding a ransom for the ship's release.
The Puntland authorities deployed local forces in the area in an attempt to assist rescue efforts for the hostages on board the vessel, the district commissioner said.
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He says the release occurred after negotiations by local elders and local officials with the pirates, who seized the tanker on Monday. 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.
An unnamed former British army officer said: "The Puntland maritime police force freed the ship".
"The ship and crew will remain safe as long as no one attacks them", Hussein said by phone from an undisclosed location in northern Somalia.
"After we came to know that the Somali traders hired the oil tanker, we released it without a ransom", pirate Abdullahi told Reuters.
Pirates argued that they are fighting illegal ships and boats which are collecting their natural resources, mainly the fish.
A United Nations report seen by the AP in November said Somali pirates retain the capacity and intent to resume the attacks and lately have shifted to targeting smaller foreign fishing boats.
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