West African pirates release Spanish tanker

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Pirates operating in West Africa have released a Spanish-owned tanker and its 23-member crew hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea on Sep. 14, a spokeswoman from Spain’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry did not provide details on the whereabouts of the Cyprus-flagged Mattheos 1 tanker, owned and operated by Spain’s Consultores de Navigacion SA. “The ministry has taken the necessary discreet steps and has spoken to the company and the families of crew members,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

The Mattheos was taken by pirates during a ship-to-ship transfer of petroleum products about 62 nautical miles southwest of the port of Cotonou and taken to an unknown location. The crew of the tanker is mostly Filipino and Cypriot, with five Spaniards and a Peruvian Captain.
“The seamen are all well expect for one, who was hit. He was not Spanish,” Consultores de Navigacion spokeswoman Sheena Campbell said on national radio. 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.



Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches from the 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.