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Somali pirate gangs are known for their creative pressure tactics used to encourage vessel owners into paying ransoms as quickly as possible. While pirates can be patient (the MV ICEBERG has been held for over two years) a decline in hijack success rates has resulted in increasingly brutal actions towards hostages, or at least threats of this nature.
This week the Master of the MT ROYAL GRACE, a UAE-owned chemical products taker hijacked by pirates on March 2nd of this year, emailed the owners stating that one of the crewmembers had been killed, but did not give a cause of death. Sources close to the captors of the vessel told Somalia Report that the allegedly deceased crewmember is an Indian national, but diplomatic sources have claimed he is Nigerian.
It is very possible that the claim is simply pirate propaganda, and an attempt to pressure the owners into speeding up their negotiations. Pirates have not offered any further evidence of the alleged death.
The pirate gang is currently demanding $14 million for the release of the vessel, which will slowly reduce as negotiations develop. Initially, pirates were demanding $25 million.
Pirates hijacked the MT ROYAL GRACE and kidnapped its 22 crewmembers (comprised of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Nigerian nationals) off the Omani coast, while the vessel was on her maiden voyage to Nigeria. The ship was in ballast at the time.
This is not the only such claim this week. Somalia Report received reports from a variety of sources on Wednesday afternoon that one crewmember of Taiwanese-owned, Omani-flagged fishing vessel NAHAM 3 had died. Pirates did not give a cause of death.
FV NAHAM 3 was attacked and boarded by pirates while underway off Somalia on March 26th. Pirates hijacked the fishing vessel along with her 15 multinational crew, comprised of Taiwanese, Filipinos, Indonesians, Chinese and Vietnamese nationals.