Pirates hijack tanker off Nigerian coast

BBC

Pirates have hijacked a Singapore-owned oil tanker off the coast of Nigeria.

A Nigerian navy spokesman told the BBC two ships and a helicopter are trying to rescue the Abu Dhabi Star.

Map

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) told the AFP news agency that 23 crew members were on board when the tanker was captured on Tuesday night.

The navy denied reports that the tanker was seized in Lagos port, saying it happened at sea and the vessel was now about 25km (15 miles) off the coast.

There has been a significant increase in the number of pirate attacks in parts of West Africa.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says instead of seeking a hefty ransom the armed gangs tend to steal the cargo before releasing the crew.

Noel Choong, head of the IMB’s Malaysia-based piracy reporting centre, said the crew members had locked themselves in a safe room.

“We are concerned about their safety and the spate of hijackings,” he told AFP.

But he said those behind the attack may be the same criminal syndicate that seized two tankers off Togo last month, siphoned off the oil and later released the crew and ships.

Last year, Nigeria and neighbouring Benin began joint naval patrols in an effort to combat the threat of pirates. Read more…

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