The Sri Lankan government on Friday confirmed that eight local crew members aboard an oil tanker allegedly hijacked by Somali pirates had been released safely without a ransom.
Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha De Silva told a media conference in capital Colombo that the crew had been released on Friday morning and he thanked all countries who had helped coordinate the safe release of the crew.
“We thank the U.S. government and the President of Puntland, the semi autonomous region of Somalia in whose waters the hijacking took place,” De Silva said.
The Minister also thanked the U.S. Ambassador in Sri Lanka Atul Keshap for taking up the matter with Washington, the EU, the Combined Maritime Force and the Sri Lanka Navy.
“This task would not have been made possible without their unstinted and active effort,” De Silva said.
“The US took up the matter with the Puntland administration and got the men released. The combined Maritime Force also persuaded the Puntland army to stop firing on the tanker as it would endanger the lives of the captives on board,” De Silva said.
The Aris 13, a Comoros-flagged tanker belonging to a Greek company, was en route from the Somali capital Mogadishu to Djibouti, Somalia’s northern neighbor, when it went missing off the coast near a town called Alula.
It was the first major hijacking in the east African nation in almost five years.
International media reports had said that the pirates had demanded an undisclosed ransom for the vessel’s return. Enditem