UPDATE 2-Weapons buildup, anger fuel threat of renewal of Somali piracy

Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:23pm GMT

* Somalis angered by foreign vessels getting fishing permits

* Smugglers bringing in large numbers of weapons from Yemen

* Some say will return to piracy as govt ignores complaints (Updates with new material on weapons and fishing throughout)

By Abdiqani Hassan

BOSASSO, March 15 (Reuters) - A volatile buildup of weapons and resentment along the northern Somali coast culminated in the hijack of an oil freighter this week, the first such seizure by Somali pirates since 2012, experts and locals told Reuters on Wednesday.

Gunmen hijacked the Aris 13, a small oil tanker, on Monday and are demanding a ransom to release the ship and its eight Sri Lankan crew, the EU Naval Force that patrols the waters off Somalia said.

Now shipping companies are scrambling to find out whether the attack is a one-off, or whether pirates could once again threaten one of the world's most important shipping lanes and cost the industry billions of dollars annually.

Somali forces have been sent to try to free the tanker.

But locals say the attacks will continue and blame their government in the semi-autonomous Puntland region for granting foreigners permits to fish in Somali waters.   Continued...

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