COLOMBO Sri Lanka
(Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government
on Friday confirmed that eight local crew members aboard an oil
tanker allegedly hijacked by Somali pirates had been released
safely without a ransom.
Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha
De Silva told a media conference in capital Colombo that the
crew had been released on Friday morning and he thanked all
countries who had helped coordinate the safe release of the
"We thank the U.S. government and the President of Puntland,
the semi autonomous region of Somalia in whose waters the
hijacking took place," De Silva said.
The Minister also thanked the U.S. Ambassador in Sri Lanka
Atul Keshap for taking up the matter with Washington, the EU,
the Combined Maritime Force and the Sri Lanka Navy.
"This task would not have been made possible without their
unstinted and active effort," De Silva said.
"The US took up the matter with the Puntland administration
and got the men released.
The combined Maritime Force also persuaded the Puntland army
to stop firing on the tanker as it would endanger the lives of
the captives on board," De Silva said.
The Aris 13, a Comoros-flagged tanker belonging to a Greek
company, was en route from the Somali capital Mogadishu to
Djibouti, Somalia’s northern neighbor, when it went missing off
the coast near a town called Alula.
It was the first major hijacking in the east African nation
in almost five years.
International media reports had said that the pirates had
demanded an undisclosed ransom for the vessel’s return.
Hi-jacked oil tanker Aris 13 finally freed by Somali