After a lull of several years, Somali pirates are back in the news with reports of them having successfully attacked and seized an Iranian fishing vessel named Almeraj 1.
The seizure took place off the Somali coast near the old seaport town of Eyl. The ‘pirates’ are thought to have come from a local clan and their attack on the fishing vessel was in response to claims of the fishing vessel operating within Somali territorial waters.
The origin of piracy off the Somali coast is credited to foreign fishing vessels taking fish that local fishermen say is theirs by right. From that early start, rampant piracy took over as Somali clans discovered the large sums of money could be generated by way of ransoming crew and the vessels.
It has been reported that the Somalis are demanding $400 000 for the release of the Almeraj 1 and its crew. Reports add that they threaten to use the vessel to attack more shipping if the ransom is not paid.
Almeraj 1 sailed from Chabahar in Iran in October and has been operating in Somali waters since arriving off the coast.
Central Park highjack attempt
Reports from the US Pentagon say that the men who boarded the tanker Central Park last week may have been Somalis, and not Houthis from Yemen.
The vessel was boarded by five men operating from a small boat in waters near the Yemen coast. An American destroyer, USS Mason, was able to intervene and demand the men leave the vessel, after which they chased the escaping boat and apprehended the five men.
The five are now in custody on board the Mason.