Pirates attacked an Italian tanker carrying a cargo of diesel fuel in the Gulf of Guinea off Benin, making off with some goods but leaving the crew unharmed, local authorities said.
Earlier the Italian Foreign Ministry said the ship, the RBD Anema e Core with a crew of 23 on board, was taken in the early hours of Sunday when a number of assailants boarded. Two of the crew are Italians, the others are Filipino and Romanian.
“At the moment we don’t know what they took but the attack didn’t last long so it could not have been things of great value,” Maxime Ahoyo, commander of Benin’s navy, told Reuters.
Ahoyo said he had information that the crew was unharmed and still at sea. He could not say what their destination was.
“We are going to reinforce our security arrangements to dissuade pirates,” he added, noting the importance to the local economy of the port of Cotonou, which is also Benin’s largest city and seat of government.
Two Italian ships have been captured in recent months in the Indian Ocean on the opposite side of the continent, where pirate groups operating from the lawless Horn of Africa have been a scourge on international shipping for a number of years.
Piracy is on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea, although it is not on the scale seen off Somalia, where armed sea-borne gangs are making millions of dollars in ransoms and becoming increasingly violent.