Somali security forces that freed pirated ship say NATO must do more

Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:00am GMT
 

By Abdiqani Hassan

BOSASSO (Reuters) - Somali officials whose forces freed a hijacked oil tanker and its eight Sri Lankan crew said on Sunday that NATO ships must do more to prevent the illegal fishing that locals say sparked the latest attack.

Monday's hijacking was the first time that Somali pirates had successfully hijacked a commercial ship since 2012. Unlike previous hijackings, the ship was freed swiftly and with no ransom paid after the Puntland Maritime Police Force intervened.

The intervention reassured shipping companies concerned that resurgent pirates could once again threaten one of the world's most important shipping lanes.

Officials from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland blamed local anger over illegal fishing by foreign vessels for the attack. They warned that more hijackings might happen unless the problem was tackled.

"We requested NATO warships to tackle the illegal fishing, but they replied it was not their mandate," Abdihakim Abdullahi Omar, the vice president of Puntland, told reporters at Bosasso port.

"We told them that if they cannot take measures against the illegal fishing vessels who come under their cover and those who pour wastes into our waters, then their presence is a burden rather than a benefit."

The Somali pirates often claim they attacked ships in revenge for illegal fishing by foreigners, then broadened that out to include any foreign-owned vessel.

NATO officials were not immediately available for comment. They have previously said illegal fishing along Somalia's coast is not in their mission.   Continued...

Maritime police are seen aboard oil tanker Aris-13, which was released by pirates, as it sails to dock on the shores of the Gulf of Aden in the city of Bosasso, northern Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland, March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Abdiqani Hassan
 
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