The Somali pirate crew that hijacked the Bangladeshi-flagged bulker Abdullah have received their ransom payout and have departed the ship, releasing the vessel and its 23 crewmembers. 

Abdullah was hijacked off the coast of Puntland last month while on a voyage from Mozambique to the UAE with a load of coal. 

The pirates told Reuters that they were paid $5 million in ransom, or about $220,000 per crewmember. They divided the loot amongst themselves and departed in smaller groups. 

The shipowner, SR Shipping, confirmed to AFP that a deal had been reached with the pirates. 

The payout suggests that piracy is still among the most lucrative criminal enterprises available along the coast of Somalia. In the heyday of maritime crime in the region, from 2005-2012, pirates netted about $400 million, according to World Bank estimates. 

Read More: Indian Navy rescues two vessels within 24 hours from Somali Pirates

It is not clear whether the pirates escaped to benefit from their ill-gotten gains. An officer with the Puntland Police Force told local Somali outlet Garowe that eight members of the gang were apprehended right after leaving the ship. However, the status of the ransom money is unclear. 

Pirate sightings and approaches have been observed much more frequently in the Indian Ocean since the beginning of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea late last year. As Western navies repositioned to counter anti-ship drones and missiles from Houthi forces in Yemen, counter-piracy operations took a back seat, leaving an opening for Somali gangs to roam at sea once more.

The Indian Navy has stepped up to fill the gap. Last month, Indian Navy forces captured a large gang of 35 pirates aboard the bulker Ruen. The suspects have been returned to India for trial.

Source: Maritime Executive


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Issue 90 of Robban Assafina

(Mar./April 2024)


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