Somali pirates release oil tanker hostages
Hijackers given their freedom after dropping ransom demand
Somali pirates who hijacked an oil tanker and took its eight crew members hostage have released the vessel and crew in return for their freedom.
The announcement came hours after the hijackers and naval forces exchanged gunfire over a boat believed to be carrying supplies to the pirates, the BBC reports.
"There has been discussion going on after the gunfight of this afternoon," Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, director general of the Puntland maritime police force, said. "We pulled our forces back and so the pirates went away."
One of the hijackers, identified only as Abdullahi, told Reuters the ransom demand was dropped during negotiations with security officials.
The Daily Telegraph reports the pirates "were not arrested but instead were given passage to leave once they disembarked".
The eight Sri Lankan crew were released unharmed.
Monday's hijacking "followed an outpouring of anger by locals over foreign fishermen flooding into their waters," says The Guardian. Somalis are "also angry with their government for licensing some of the ships".
The tanker was en route from Djibouti to Mogadishu when it was seized just off the coast of Somalia.
It is the first such incident in five years in a region once overrun with pirates. In previous cases, crews remained in captivity for years before a ransom was paid.