Lagos: Pirates have hijacked an oil tanker
and its crew off the Nigerian coast, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said.
The pirates boarded the tanker, believed to be a Marshall
Islands-flagged vessel, on Saturday, IMB manager Cyrus Mody
said from London.
"The vessel is still under captivity...We believe the
crew is still on board," according to the official of the piracy watchdog, who added that there was "no indication that the crew has been taken away".
Soon after the attack, IMB was informed that the crew
members, whose exact number is unknown, "were OK", but the
organisation has had no news of them since, Mody noted.
According to a report on the IMB website, the attack took
place around 90 nautical miles south of Lagos, Nigeria's
economic capital yesterday.
A spokesman for the Nigerian navy said that the tanker
was the MT Cape Bird carrying 30,000 tonnes of fuel.
"We have no information yet on the crew members," said
Kabir Aliyu, adding that the navies of Nigeria and
neighbouring Benin were looking for the tanker.
The coast of Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, is
reputed to be dangerous, with pirates hijacking ships, mostly
loaded with crude, from the oil-rich Niger Delta, for sale on
the region's lucrative black market.
On October 2, pirates armed with automatic weapons fired
upon and boarded a chemical tanker off neighbouring Benin
before stealing cash, the latest in a wave of such attacks off
west Africa, IMB said.
The coast of Benin has seen some 20 piracy incidents this
year compared with none last year. Piracy has long been a
problem off Nigeria.
Benin and Nigeria launched joint sea patrols last month
to tackle the surge in piracy that has raised alarm in the
shipping industry, with attacks seeing crews held hostage and
First Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 12:07