Nigeria Military Frees Tanker Hijacked Off Coast

Posted September 5th, 2012 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Nigeria's navy has freed an oil tanker and 23 crew members that were seized by pirates near Lagos.

The navy said it recaptured the Singapore-flagged ship Abu Dhabi Star on Wednesday, less than a day after it was hijacked.

Officials say the pirates fled the vessel and all crew members on board – 23 Indian nationals – are safe.

This was the third hijacking in the Gulf of Guinea in the past two weeks. Authorities believe the pirates had planned to siphon the oil cargo onto another vessel.

Hijackers in the Gulf of Guinea typically release ships and crew members after stealing cargo, unlike pirates in Somalia who usually hold the crew for ransom.

Last week, pirates seized an oil tanker anchored in Togo's port, an area where crews typically feel more protected from pirate attacks.

The director of the International Maritime Bureau, Pottengal Mukundan, says Togo's navy was unable to rescue that tanker.

“This is very disturbing because it sends the wrong signal to these criminals, that they can succeed in these attacks,” he says.

Pirates freed the tanker and crew seized last week after stealing the oil on the vessel.

Mukundan warned attacks in the Gulf of Guinea will likely rise unless governments do more to catch and punish the pirates.