World Pirates may have hijacked missing oil tanker in Gulf of Guinea

23:35  05 february  2018
23:35  05 february  2018 Source:   foxnews.com

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A French oil tanker that went missing near the Ivory Coast over the weekend has been hijacked by pirates for its cargo. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) issued a security alert for West Africa's Gulf of Guinea following a spate of violent attacks in recent days.

A Greek-owned oil tanker that lost contact with its owner after the evening of June 4 is still missing and presumed hijacked in the pirate -prone Gulf of Guinea .

a large ship in the background © Provided by Fox News

An Indian-owned oil tanker that vanished Thursday off the coast of the West African country of Benin may have been hijacked by pirates, and officials Sunday pleaded for help finding the vessel.

India's External Affairs minister Suchma Swaraj confirmed late Sunday the tanker, Marine Express, disappeared in the Gulf of Guinea with 22 Indian crew members on board.

"Merchant Ship Marine Express with 22 Indian nationals is missing off the Coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea," Swaraj wrote on Twitter. "We are making all out efforts in coordination with Nigerian and Benin naval authorities to trace the missing ship."

Oil tanker with 22 aboard missing off coast of West Africa

  Oil tanker with 22 aboard missing off coast of West Africa <p>The search for a missing oil tanker off the coast of West Africa entered its fourth day Sunday, with no word on the fate of the 22 Indian nationals aboard the vessel.</p>The vessel, Marine Express, was carrying more than 13,000 tons of gasoline and went missing in the Gulf of Guinea, according to a statement from the Anglo Eastern, the ship's managing company.

Piracy is a common occurrence in the Gulf of Guinea , where criminal groups based in the Niger Delta have the capability to raid shipping far out to sea. The Merchant Tanker that was Built to Fight. Three Oil Majors Announce Big Finds in Deepwater GoM. May 2017.

The Marine Express was last heard from on Thursday in the Gulf of Guinea , close to where a similar vessel was hijacked last month. Pic: Binmei JP. A search has been launched for an Indian-owned oil tanker that has gone missing in a part of West Africa rife with piracy .

On Monrday, Swaraj wrote she has spoken to the foreign minister of Nigeria, who has " promised all help and assistance in locating the missing ship."

It is unclear whether the ship was hijacked for ransom, or to steal the nearly 15,000 tons of gasoline on board.

The ship, owned by a Mumbai company, has been missing since Feb. 1 and no contact has been made with the crew so far, according to Indian media reports.

The ship's Mumbai-based manning agent, Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, confirmed on Twitter it had lost contact with the vessel.

"We regret that contact has been lost with the AE-managed MT Marine Express while at Cotonou, Benin. Last contact was at 03:30 UTC, Feb 1," the company said. "Authorities have been alerted and are responding. Our top priority is the safety of the crew, whose families have been contacted."

Pirates release crew of oil tanker hijacked off West Africa

  Pirates release crew of oil tanker hijacked off West Africa Pirates have released 22 Indian nationals taken captive after their oil tanker was boarded off the coast of West Africa last week. The vessel, Marine Express, was carrying more than 13,000 tons of gasoline when it went missing in the Gulf of Guinea, according to a statement from the Anglo Eastern, the ship's managing company, which said it lost contact with the vessel on Thursday. "(The managers of) Marine Express, which was the subject of a pirate attack and seizure on February 1st are pleased to report that the vessel was back under the command of the Master and Crew," Anglo Eastern said in a statement.

A Greek-owned oil tanker that lost contact with its owner after the evening of June 4 is still missing and presumed hijacked in the pirate -prone Gulf of Guinea .

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects a number of countries in West Africa as well as the wider international community. By 2011, it had become an issue of global concern. Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are often part of heavily armed criminal enterprises

According to tracking data, the last contact with the vessel was while it was anchored at Cotonou, Sky News reported.

SHIP HIJACKED AND THEN FREED BY SOMALI PIRATES, AT SAFE PORT

In January, another oil tanker, MT Barret, went missing off Benin. That crew of 22, mostly Indians, was released within days after a ransom was paid to the pirates who hijacked the tanker, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Ship hijackings and kidnappings of crew are common in the region, with hostages often released unharmed after a ransom is paid. Bandits usually target oil tankers and sell the crude.

International efforts have brought down the threat of piracy off Somalia's coast in recent years. Concerns about piracy off Africa's coast have now largely shifted to the Gulf of Guinea.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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