Pirates demand ransom for tanker seized off Somalia — EU Naval Force

The Aris 13 oil tanker. (Kevin Finnigan/Tropic Maritime Images via AP)
Updated 15 March 2017
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Pirates demand ransom for tanker seized off Somalia — EU Naval Force

NAIROBI: Armed pirates off the coast of Somalia who hijacked an oil tanker with eight Sri Lankan crew on board are demanding a ransom for the release of the vessel, the EU Naval Force said.
The pirates seized the Comoros-flagged Aris 13 tanker on Monday, the first such hijacking in the region since 2012.
“The EU Naval Force ... has received positive confirmation from the master of ... Aris 13, that his ship and crew are currently being held captive by a number of suspected armed pirates in an anchorage off the north coast of Puntland, close to Alula,” the force said in a statement late on Tuesday.
Puntland is a semi-autonomous northern region of Somalia. Alula is a port town there where pirates have taken the tanker.
EU Navfor said as soon as it received an alert on the ship’s seizure, it sent patrol aircraft from its Djibouti base to try to make radio contact with the ship, and only late on Tuesday did its headquarters in London reach the vessel’s master by phone.
“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 1,800 deadweight ton Aris 13 is owned by Panama company Armi Shipping and managed by Aurora Ship Management in the United Arab Emirates, according to the Equasis shipping data website, managed by the French transport ministry.
In their prime in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off Somalia’s coast, data from the International Maritime Bureau showed, and held hundreds of hostages.
That year, aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy estimated the global cost of piracy at about $7 billion. The shipping industry bore roughly 80 percent of those costs, the group’s analysis showed.
However attacks fell off sharply after ship owners tightened security and vessels stayed farther away from the Somali coast.


Police fire tear gas as Greeks rally over Macedonia name deal

Updated 2 min 38 sec ago
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Police fire tear gas as Greeks rally over Macedonia name deal

  • Many Greeks believe the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over their country's own northern region of that name

ATHENS: Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters outside parliament on Sunday as tens of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens to protest against a name deal with Macedonia.
Central Athens turned into a sea of people holding blue and white Greek flags as thousands came from all over the country to rally against the accord to name the ex-Yugoslav state North Macedonia.
Many Greeks believe the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over their country's own northern region of that name.
The issue evokes strong emotions among Greeks who consider Macedonia, the ancient kingdom ruled by Alexander the Great, to be an integral part of their homeland and heritage.
The accord, signed by the two governments, unblocks the ex-Yugoslav republic's desire to join NATO and the European Union once ratified by Greece's parliament.
"We cannot stomach this deal, to give away our Macedonia, our history," said pensioner Amalia Savrami, 67, as she waved a large Greek flag on Athens's Syntagma Square.
"Macedonia is Greek, period."
Locals said the Athens rally was the largest in decades, easily outdoing rallies against austerity in previous years.
Macedonia declared independence in 1991, avoiding the violence that accompanied much of the break-up of Yugoslavia. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has sought to accelerate the country's bid to join the EU and NATO and to work on resolving the decades-old name dispute with Greece.
Greece had agreed that until the name dispute is resolved, its northern neighbour, with a population of about 2 million, could be referred to internationally as "FYROM" - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. That is the name under which it was admitted to the United Nations in 1993.
Settling the issue would be hailed as a success by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose left-right coalition came to power in 2015. He won a confidence motion this month after the junior partner in his coalition pulled out.
The agreement with Skopje had strained relations with the right-wing Independent Greeks party, his coalition ally, which objected to the use of Macedonia in any agreed name.