Syrian Hostage Killed by Somali Pirates Over Delayed Ransom

Published Sep 3, 2012 9:33 AM by The Maritime Executive

A Syrian crewman, who has been held hostage by Somali pirates on his hijacked ship for almost 2 years, has been killed in an effort to object a delayed ransom payment. Another crewmember was also injured. This is one of the first documented instances where a hostage has been killed due to postponement of ransom money.

According to pirate leader, Hassan Abdi, Wednesday’s killing was a message to the MV Orna’s ship owners.

The Panama-flagged, bulk cargo vessel owned by a company in the United Arab Emirates was hijacked in December 2010 off Seychelles after being fired at with rocket propelled grenades and small arms. The pirate group threatens more deaths, as they have lost their patience in waiting for a payment over a two-year span. In May 2011, a still unknown number of pirates and hostages were forced to abandon the Orna after a fire broke out. It is believed the fire was caused by an electrical problem in the ship's kitchen.

Somali criminal gangs are dominating the piracy trade and they have become increasingly violent as international navies attempt to curb their activities. According to ABC News, the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) patrolling the Indian Ocean waters has not heard about the killing.

Pirate attacks off Somalia's coast plunged to 69 in the first six months this year from 163 a year earlier, according to the EUNAVFOR. Somali pirates were able to seize 13 vessels, down from 21, says the International Maritime Bureau.