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Somali pirates suspected of staging first attack since 2012

By AFP

Added 14th March 2017 03:44 PM

"What we know for sure is that a small tanker has been attacked and has diverted course," John Steed, a former British army officer

Somalipirates 703x422

"What we know for sure is that a small tanker has been attacked and has diverted course," John Steed, a former British army officer

Suspected pirates have boarded a tanker and forced its Sri Lankan crew to change course towards the northeastern Somali coast, in what could be the first such attack since 2012.

"What we know for sure is that a small tanker has been attacked and has diverted course," John Steed, a former British army officer who heads the Horn of Africa section of the Oceans Beyond Piracy NGO, said Tuesday.

"Whether this is a pirate attack needs to be confirmed. For example, we do not know what the demands of those men are. But this looks pretty much like the old piracy attack scenario," he said.

The Aris 13, a ship run by a company based in the United Arab Emirates, was seized on Monday with eight Sri Lankan crew members on board.

Earlier reports said the vessel was Sri Lankan-flagged, but the foreign ministry in Colombo denied the claim.

"The ministry is taking action to verify the alleged incident, and initial enquiries have revealed that while the vessel involved is not registered under a Sri Lankan flag, it has an 8-member Sri Lankan crew," it said in a statement on Facebook.

Search efforts under way

There are "serious allegations" that the Benghazi group executed two LNA fighters in the Ras Lanouf medical centre amid clashes on March 3, the United Nations human rights office said in a statement.

The UN has also received reports of LNA fighters raiding the homes of presumed Islamist supporters in the region, arresting and detaining children and taking hostages.

"We have received reports that those detained have been subjected to torture," the statement said.

The Benghazi Islamists captured the Ras Lanouf and Al-Sidra oil sites from Khalifa's forces earlier this month.

Khalifa's forces mounted an offensive to retake the terminals earlier Tuesday, in the latest violence marring a country plagued by years of violence and lawlessness since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Speaking to reporters after the LNA was underway, rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said the UN was "deeply alarmed" that continuing battles in the area would see "further human rights abuses against civilians."

Somali pirates suspected of staging first attack since 2012

Suspected pirates have boarded a tanker and forced its Sri Lankan crew to change course towards the northeastern Somali coast, in what could be the first such attack since 2012.

"What we know for sure is that a small tanker has been attacked and has diverted course," John Steed, a former British army officer who heads the Horn of Africa section of the Oceans Beyond Piracy NGO, said Tuesday.

"Whether this is a pirate attack needs to be confirmed. For example, we do not know what the demands of those men are. But this looks pretty much like the old piracy attack scenario," he said.

The Aris 13, a ship run by a company based in the United Arab Emirates, was seized on Monday with eight Sri Lankan crew members on board.

Earlier reports said the vessel was Sri Lankan-flagged, but the foreign ministry in Colombo denied the claim.

"The ministry is taking action to verify the alleged incident, and initial enquiries have revealed that while the vessel involved is not registered under a Sri Lankan flag, it has an 8-member Sri Lankan crew," it said in a statement on Facebook.

Search efforts under way

There are "serious allegations" that the Benghazi group executed two LNA fighters in the Ras Lanouf medical centre amid clashes on March 3, the United Nations human rights office said in a statement.

The UN has also received reports of LNA fighters raiding the homes of presumed Islamist supporters in the region, arresting and detaining children and taking hostages.

"We have received reports that those detained have been subjected to torture," the statement said.

The Benghazi Islamists captured the Ras Lanouf and Al-Sidra oil sites from Khalifa's forces earlier this month.

Khalifa's forces mounted an offensive to retake the terminals earlier Tuesday, in the latest violence marring a country plagued by years of violence and lawlessness since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Speaking to reporters after the LNA was underway, rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said the UN was "deeply alarmed" that continuing battles in the area would see "further human rights abuses against civilians."

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