Pirates released a Greek-operated oil tanker seized off Togo after stealing 3,000 tonnes of fuel from it, an official for the ship’s operator said.
The seizure of MT Energy Centurion, which is operated by Golden Energy Management, underscored the growing risks to shipping in the Gulf of Guinea, where piracy is rising but still not as common as off the coast of Somalia.
“They took some of the cargo, jewellery and money that belonged to the crew,” the official said, on condition of anonymity, Reuters reports.
It was not yet clear how the attackers removed the cargo from the ship. They escaped on Thursday in one of the ship’s lifeboats.
The tanker, with 23 Russian crew members, was carrying some 50,000 tonnes of diesel and petrol fuel when it was hijacked.
All crew members were in good health and unharmed, the official said. The vessel was sailing to a safe harbour in the Gulf of Guinea for repairs, as its communication systems and other equipment had been damaged.
The Gulf of Guinea is a growing source of oil, cocoa and metals and spans more than a dozen countries running from Guinea in the north-west to Angola in the south and includes Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
According to the International Maritime Bureau’s website, there have been eight piracy incidents off the coast of Togo since January.