Pirates in Nigeria have kidnapped the captain and an engineer of an oil products tanker in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa this week.
The tanker, MT Althea, was attacked on Monday by ten pirates in a speed boat, who abducted the two crew members but left the cargo untouched. The captain is Ukrainian and the engineer is Greek.
Reuters reported from a Nigerian security source that the Marshall Islands flagged ship had 18 crew members on board when it was targeted 35 nautical miles off the Niger Delta coastline.
The news agency quoted an official from the ship’s manager, Piraeus-based Medtankers Management, who said that no ransom demand has been received so far.
The official stated: "They kidnapped the two men but did not touch the cargo (oil) or injure anyone."
This is the second abduction reported from Nigeria in two months: two Americans, the captain and the chief engineer of C-Retriever, were kidnapped in October and released the next month.
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Pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea have increased by a third in 2013; ships travelling through this route have become more vulnerable than those in the waters off Somalia, where they operate under protection from armed guards.
The International Maritime Bureau released a report titled ‘Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program’ in June. The report found that pirate attacks in Somalia fell by 78% from the previous year to 851 in 2012, while attacks in West Africa were recorded at 966 that year.
According to the report, captive sailors in the Gulf of Guinea are held hostage for an average of four days, compared to 11 months in Somalia, but they are also subjected to more violence. Five hostages were killed in West Africa in 2012 while there are no such records from the Gulf of Aden or the western Indian Ocean.
Image: The Gulf of Guinea recorded 966 pirate attacks in 2012. Photo: courtesy of Amcaja.