Somali pirates have released the Aris 13 oil tanker and its eight Sri Lankan crew members without ransom, following their hijacking of the vessel on 13 March.

The release was made hours after the pirates and the European Union (EU) Naval Force exchanged gunfire, which was followed by extensive negotiations, reported Reuters.

The EU Naval Force (Somalia) noted that Aris 13 and its crew were en route to a safe port on the northern coast of Somalia.

No crew members were said to have been harmed by the armed pirates during their four-day captivity.

Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), a security force from the autonomous Puntland region in north-eastern Somalia, assisted in the rescue operation.

"The release was made hours after the pirates and the European Union Naval Force exchanged gunfire, which was followed by extensive negotiations."

PMPF director general Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan was quoted by BBC as saying: “There has been discussion going on after the gunfight this afternoon; we took our forces back and thus the pirates went away.”

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By GlobalData

This latest case of hijacking was the first of its kind to be carried out by Somali Pirates in five years, and saw the Aris 13 tanker captured while en route from Djibouti to the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

The vessel is owned by Panama-based company Comoros and managed by the United Arab Emirates, and was carrying a cargo of gas and fuel at the time of capture.


Image: Aris 13 tanker at sea. Photo: courtesy of Eunavfor.