Abuja: Four persons were killed on Tuesday when a ship belonging to an Indian company was attacked by suspected pirates in Nigeria`s oil-rich southern Niger Delta region, sources said.
Two soldiers, a retired naval officer and captain of the going tugboat which ran into an ambush after setting sail from Warri in Delta State to Port Harcourt in Rivers State all in southern part of Nigeria, sources said.
The ship belongs to Sterling Global Services Limited, a venture of an India-based company called the Sandesara Group.
"The military men escorting Sterling Global Oil Resources Limited tugboat ran into an ambush mounted by suspected sea pirates along the Angiama-Etelibiri waterways of Sagbama Local Government area of Bayelsa state," the spokesman for the Joint Task Force (JTF), a military unit that polices the region against piracy, Lt Col Onyema Nwachukwu told a news agency.
Nwachukwu failed to confirm the death of the retired soldier and the ship captain and said three pirates were also wounded by soldiers who returned fire.
One inmate of the ship was also missing while two other soldiers sustained serious injuries during the shootout that followed, he added.
Nwachukwu could not give any reason for the attack because the boat and the escorting vessels were empty.
According to him, the military has sent five gunboats after the pirates and security has been heightened in Bayelsa state where the incident took place.
Two months ago, five Indians were abducted by heavily armed pirates who attacked the vessel, Medallion Marine, in which they were travelling on about 60 kilometres off the coast of oil rich Niger Delta and commercial capital, Lagos.
They were released a month after.
Attacks on ships are common in Nigeria oil rich region and in most cases the purpose is kidnapping for ransom while in some cases, oil theft could be the motive.