LAGOS, Nigeria - Armed pirates raided a tanker off the West African coast and kidnapped 23 sailors yesterday, taking off with the vessel in waters that are increasingly at risk of piracy, an international monitoring group said.
The International Maritime Bureau said pirates boarded the tanker as it idled about 62 nautical miles from Benin’s capital of Cotonou.
Pirates struck as the Cyprus-flagged vessel tried to transfer its cargo of crude oil to a Norwegian-registered ship, said Cyrus Mody, a manager at the bureau.
The pirates sailed off with the crew to an unknown location, Mody said. The ship is called the Mattheos I, said Serghios Serghiou, director of Cyprus’s Department of Merchant Shipping.
The pirates attacked the Norwegian ship at the same time, though the crew was able to lock themselves into a strong room and wait for the attackers to leave, Mody said.
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has escalated in recent months, according to the Denmark-based security firm Risk Intelligence.