BOSASO, Somalia/NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) – Somali pirates have actually released 3 Iranian captives held for 5 years, a maritime security official stated on Thursday, as conflicting reports emerged whether another ship had actually been taken after a three-year hiatus in hijackings.

Three Iranian fishermen, who, according to maritime security authorities, were released by Somali pirates after being held for 5 years, pose for a picture in the VIP hall of Imam Khomeini Airport, in Tehran, Iran August 21,2020 WANA (West Asia News Firm) by means of REUTERS

The three Iranians are the last of the crew of the Iranian fishing vessel FV Siraj, which was caught by pirates on March 22, 2015.

” This marks completion of an age of Somali piracy and the discomfort and suffering of Somalia’s forgotten hostages,” said John Steed, the organizer of the Hostage Assistance Program, a volunteer organisation based in Nairobi begun to help rescue crews abandoned by their companies.

The release was implied to mark the end of a period for Somalia’s pirates, who held over 2,300 crew between 2010 and 2019.

However rather, 6 armed guys pirated the Panama-flagged Aegean II late Wednesday after it had engine issues, a local governor in Somalia informed Reuters.

Musse Salah, the governor of Gardafu in the semi-autonomous northern area of Puntland, stated the ship was travelling from the United Arab Emirates to Mogadishu port when pirates assaulted it, in what would be the very first effective pirating since 2017.

There were 20 crew onboard, said a citizen in contact with the men who had taken the ship.

A regional security authorities stated the males appeared to have links to a regional militia that worked as an authorities unit in the Bari region. The official asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

COPS, PIRATES, OR BOTH?

Jay Bahadur, a Somali piracy expert who was formerly head of a United Nations group of professionals imposing an arms embargo on Somalia, said that being a pirate and a member of the Somali cops had not historically been mutually unique.

He stated it appeared that a group of men using authorities uniforms had boarded the ship, robbed the team and taken the weapons of a private security group on board.

The man reported to be the ringleader of the attack on the Aegean II had actually repeated phone contact with another pirate who was part of a group that performed Somalia’s last hijacking in 2017, he added. The contact occurred in the months prior to the 2017 hijacking.

” If it was indeed the police, it bears resemblance to one of the earliest Somali piracy incidents, when members of the Puntland coast guard pirated the boat they were supposed to be guarding,” he said.

Satellite tracking information showed the ship appeared to have actually rounded the Horn of Africa and was going south past the Somali port of Hafun before unexpectedly turning sharply to the north and docking in Bereeda. Pictures sent to Reuters from Bereeda revealed the Aegean II, a little tanker that brings chemical or crude items.

The European Union Naval Force, known as EU Navfor, was checking on the event, stated a source in their Somalia Joint Operation Centre.

At the height of their power in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of the country, the International Maritime Bureau states, and held hundreds hostage.

The number of attacks later tumbled as shipping companies implemented better security procedures, consisting of posting look-outs, cruising further far from Somalia, and hiring personal security. International warships operating as part of a coalition likewise prevented a number of attacks.

Somalia has actually been riven by civil war considering that 1991 and is controlled by a patchwork of regional militias, pockets of federal forces, African Union peacekeepers and Islamist insurgents. The Horn of Africa country has actually likewise been periodically afflicted by pirates.

Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Barbara Lewis, Hugh Lawson and Lisa Shumaker

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Marco Bitran
Husband and father of two children under age 5, Marco also enjoys walks in nature, squash, running road races, and photography. He regularly contributes significant time and resources to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the MSPCA and other animal rights organizations, and the Bitran Charitable Foundation. Marco has also volunteered and consulted for public housing support organizations such as the Somerville Homeless Coalition, created by the local community’s grassroots response to the social crisis of homelessness.