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.


At least one dead in multiple shooting in Dutch city of Utrecht

Updated 8 min 58 sec ago
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At least one dead in multiple shooting in Dutch city of Utrecht

  • Police are not ruling out terrorism as a possible motive
  • ‘Threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province’

DUBAI: At least one person is dead and multiple others injured in a shooting incident in Utrecht, in The Netherlands.

Police have not ruled out terrorism as a possible motive in the shooting that left several people “heavily injured” - the shooter remains at large. Police have erected a white tent over an area where a body appears to be lying next to a tram where the shooting happened, AP reported.

Utrecht Police tweeted an image of a man named Gökman Tanis, asking people for information on him in connection with the incident — but warned members of the public not to approach him.

The main counterterrorism unit in The Netherlands, the  National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), told the Dutch public broadcaster that the incident had all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

Counter-terrorism forces have surrounded a building where the gunman may be located, local broadcaster NOS News reported.

There was gunfire at several locations in the city, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief said.

“Shooting took place this morning at several locations in Utrecht,” Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference in The Hague. “A major police operation is under way to arrest the gunman.”

The Dutch anti-terror coordinator has raised the threat alert to its highest level around the central Dutch town of Utrecht following the shooting incident on a tram in the city, with the shooter still on the run.

Paramilitary police have increased security at airports, mosques and other vital public infrastructure. Police have also advised schools in the area to keep their doors closed.
Anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said in a statement that the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” referring to the highest level. 
“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he said in a Twitter message. He called on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police. 
Dutch police say they are looking for a least one person who might have fled by car.

Spokesman Bernhard Jens did not exclude more people might be involved. 
“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens said.

A hotline to address queries about the situation. The Netherlands has one of the strictest gun laws and ownership is limited to law enforcement, hunters and target shooters.

 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the government is currently holding crisis talks.

Aalbersberg earlier said on Twitter that he was having “crisis consultations”, adding: “Terrorist motive not excluded. Information not yet full.”

 

Local media reports have said counter-terrorism police were seen at the scene.

“Shooting incident... Several injured people reported. Assistance started,” the Utrecht police Twitter account said. “It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help.”

The 24 Oktoberplein is a busy Utrecht traffic junction, with a tram stop. Tram traffic was temporarily stopped due to the incident, but the trams are currently running again between Zuilenstein, Nieuwegein and IJsselstein.

(With AFP and Reuters)