Puntland Minister: Hijacked M.V Ruen spotted, pirates permit medical treatment for injured crew

The Maltese-flagged vessel M.V Ruen, hijacked by a group of 15 to 18 armed men, has been located near the town of Bareeda in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, Puntland minister said.

Ahmed Yasin, Puntland’s Minister of Ports, disclosed that the pirates seized the merchant vessel and breached Puntland waters on Monday.

According to Minister Yasin, the pirates permitted the release of an injured crew member, who is currently receiving medical treatment.

“The reports we have is that the pirates allowed to release one of the crew members who was injured. He is currently receiving treatment,” the minister said.

The minister said there are efforts going on to communicate to the pirates.

Witnesses in Bareeda told Kaab TV that the vessel is being held approximately 100 miles from the coast by heavily armed men.

Bareeda is a town on the Red Sea coast of Puntland and is about 486 kilometre from the region’s main port town of Bosaso.

Puntland authorities suspect that the pirates employed an Iranian fishing vessel for the hijacking.

The minister revealed that the pirates are believed to have navigated from the Qandala area into the Red Sea, then to the Indian Ocean, where they seized the vessel before returning to the Puntland coast.

Although the exact number of crew members is unknown, it is reported that at least half of them are Bulgarian seafarers.

Concerns are escalating among local community in Bareeda town as foreign navy vessels approach the area, raising the potential for armed confrontations between the pirates and international forces.

Authorities already said that at least three foreign navy vessels have been spotted in the vicinity.

Minister Yasin expressed that the pirates appear to have reorganized themselves and are determined to resume piracy activities, with some returning and potentially recruiting additional armed individuals.

According to maritime security sources, the incident is the first hijacking of a merchant ship by Somali pirates since 2017.

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