Pirates have hijacked a chemical product tanker and kidnapped the crew off the Nigerian coast, in the latest attack off the coast of Africa’s largest crude oil exporter.
The attack occurred late Saturday about 90 nautical miles south of the commercial capital Lagos, the International Maritime Bureau said yesterday. The Marshall Islands flagged vessel and its crew were taken to an unknown location.
“We believe all the crew members are OK at this point in time,” said Cyrus Mody of the IMB.
Commodore Kabir Aliyu, the Nigerian Navy’s spokesman, said the hijacked ship was the MT Cape Bird, which had been carrying either crude oil or refined petrol.
The incident was the latest in a string of attacks on ships in the Gulf of Guinea that experts say is threatening an emerging trade hub and growing source of oil, metals and agricultural products to world markets.
On September 14, pirates hijacked the Cyprus-flagged Mattheos 1 tanker and its 23 crew sailing in the Gulf of Guinea, but released it on September 24.
Mody told Reuters last month that among the attacks off West Africa, there have been eight hijackings in the Gulf of Guinea this year, but that all of the crews have since been released, usually within 72 hours.
Piracy has already led maritime insurers in London to put Benin on a list of high-risk zones for shipping. Maritime insurers represented by the Lloyd’s Market Association are demanding higher fees to cover ships which pass through the region, IPS reports.
Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches from Guinea to Angola, tend to raid ships for cash and cargo rather than hijacking the crews for ransom like their counterparts off the coast of Somalia.