The EU naval force deployed in the Indian Ocean has confirmed that the eight crew onboard the fuel tanker Aris 13 have become the first men to be kidnapped by Somalis since 2012. The crew are now being held captive with a ransom demanded.
“The master confirmed that armed men were on board his ship and they were demanding a ransom for the ship’s release. The EU Naval Force has now passed the information regarding the incident to the ship’s owners,” EU Navfor said.
The Aris 13, manned by eight Sri Lankan seafarers, was carrying fuel from Djibouti to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, when it was approached by men in two skiffs. The Somalis boarded the ship, cut its communications, locked the crew in one room and changed the vessel’s course. The ship is now moored off the town of Alula in the northeast of Somalia.
The Aris 13 is owned by Armi Shipping based in Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.
Whether this will be an isolated incident remains to be seen. The International Maritime Bureau’s most recent annual report warned that if there was a single successful hijacking of a merchant vessel, it could “rekindle” the Somali pirates’ desire to resume their piracy efforts.