Contact Established: Negotiations Underway for Release of MV Abdullah Crew by Somali Pirates

The pirates from Somalia who commandeered the MV Abdullah, a vessel flying the flag of Bangladesh, have made their first contact with SR Shipping, a branch of the Kabir Group, instigating a complex negotiation process over the destiny of the 23 Bangladeshi crew members who have been held captive since March 12.

These pirates reached out through a mediator, marking a crucial moment in a crisis that has attracted global attention due to the resurgence of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Mizanul Islam, a spokesperson for the Kabir Group, disclosed to Prothom Alo, a Bengali-language daily newspaper in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that discussions are currently underway. However, they have not explicitly stated their ransom demands yet.

The MV Abdullah was on its way from Maputo, Mozambique, to Al Hamriyah, United Arab Emirates, transporting 55,000 tonnes of coal when it was hijacked approximately 600 nautical miles from the Somali shoreline. Its capture adds to the growing list of maritime crimes in the region, indicating a troubling revival of pirate activities.

Last week, HOL reported that the pirates are demanding at least $5 million for the release of the vessel and its crew.

The situation is further complicated by the preparations of foreign navies and Somali police for a potential armed intervention, a move that the ship-owning firm opposes. “We do not support military action that might endanger the lives of our crew,” stated a senior official from KSRM, the parent organization of Kabir Group.

This hijacking recalls the frightening ordeal of the MV Jahan Moni in 2010, also owned by KSRM. Somali pirates released the Bangladeshi ship with its 26 crew members after a ransom of $4.72 million was paid. The Somali pirates detained the vessel for more than three months.

Now anchored near the Gadabjiran coast, the international community closely monitors the delicate negotiation process as it unfolds.

The surge in piracy has reignited discussions on maritime security and the economic toll of piracy, estimated at $7 billion at its peak, highlighting the crucial need for global cooperation in combating this persistent threat. Consequently, the number of ships in the region has significantly decreased since January 2024. In the first three weeks of March, the number of vessels transiting the Suez Canal fell by 51% compared to the previous year, resulting in a 63% decrease in gross tonnage.

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