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MOGADISHU, Somalia – The captain of the crew of a Comoros-flagged oil tanker that was hijacked and then released by Somali pirates said he feels like he was "dead and born," after the ship reached a port in northern Somalia.
Nicholas Anthony said Sunday he is grateful for efforts by the semiautonomous Puntland state in northern Somalia to secure their release. He gave no details about their captivity or how their freedom was secured.
The ship, which had a crew of eight Sri Lankans, docked at the port of Bossaso, the region's commercial hub, under heavy security by local naval forces who boarded the ship after pirates released it as a result of negotiations with local elders and regional authorities.
The tanker Aris 13 was hijacked last week in the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel off Somalia since 2012. International anti-piracy patrols on the crucial trade route had calmed such attacks, which once numbered in the hundreds.
The ship was carrying fuel from Djibouti to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on March 13 when it was approached by armed men in two skiffs and the tanker issued a call for help.
The pirates told authorities that they did not seize the ship for ransom but to protest of the illegal fishing in the area by international vessels that has threatened the ability of local fishermen to earn livelihoods.
Somalis living on the Indian Ocean coastal, including some former pirates who quit as international patrols increased and became fisherman, have complained of growing harassment by illegal foreign trawlers.