Somali Pirates Hijack First Commercial Vessel Since 2012

Somali pirates have hijacked a commercial vessel, an oil tanker, with eight Sri Lankan crew on board, the first successful hijacking of its kind since 2012.

Pirates have hijacked an oil tanker with eight Sri Lankan crew onboard, a Somali official said on Tuesday, the first time they have successfully taken a commercial ship since 2012.

Experts said the ship was an easy target and ship owners were becoming lax after a long period without many attacks.

The Aris 13 sent a distress call on Monday, turned off its tracking system and altered course for the Somali port town of Alula, said John Steed of the aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy.

“The ship reported it was being followed by two skiffs yesterday afternoon. Then it disappeared,” said Steed, an expert on piracy who is in contact with naval forces tracking the ship.

Aircraft from regional naval force EU Navfor were flying overhead to track the ship, he said. The force declined to comment on the incident.

The pirates brought the ship to the port town of Alula, district commissioner Mohamud Ahmed Eynab told Reuters by phone.

A pirate called Abdullahi told Reuters by telephone: “We are now heading on boats towards our colleagues holding the ship at Alula. We are carrying water, food and weapons for reinforcement.”

The Sri Lankan government said eight Sri Lankan crew were onboard and the ship flew a flag from the Comoros islands.

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