This was even as a French sailor was freed, Tuesday, after being captured by pirates on June 13 from an oil products tanker, Adour on June 13, about 30 nautical miles off the coast of Togo, and taken into the country, a military commander had said.
The gunmen launched their assault on the Singapore-flagged tugboat MDPL Continental One around 30 nautical miles from land on June 13, the security sources said.
The vessel was ransacked and four crew were taken hostage off the coast of the oil-producing Niger Delta, one of the sources told Reuters.
The boat’s management company, CS Offshore, told Reuters there had been an incident that day but declined to go into further details “in order not to endanger those involved.”
Pirate attacks off West Africa’s mineral-rich Gulf of Guinea have almost doubled from last year and threaten to jeopardize the shipping of commodities from the region. They have already jacked up insurance costs.
The attacks are mostly carried out by armed Nigerian gangs also blamed for kidnappings and oil theft on land.
Speaking earlier on the release of the French sailor, General Bata Dembiro, a commander in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta region, said the Nigerian navy and French marines had stormed the vessel after the hijackers seized it, but they took Benjamin Elan hostage to enable them to escape. They released the other 14 crew, he said.
“The rescued foreign ship worker was abducted in Togo aboard an oil tanker and brought to Bayelsa state (in Nigeria) by suspected kidnappers,” Dembiro told Reuters by telephone.
The pirates took the Frenchman to a small village in Bayelsa state in the delta, but youths from the local community alerted the authorities, enabling them to mount a rescue operation. The gang had fled before they arrived in the house, he said.
The shipping company in charge of the boat, ST Management SAAM, declined to comment except to confirm that there had been an “incident” with the Adour.
Pirate attacks off West Africa’s mineral-rich Gulf of Guinea have almost doubled from last year and threaten to jeopardize the shipping of commodities from the region.
The attacks are mostly carried out by armed gangs who are also responsible for kidnappings and oil theft in onshore Africa’s largest oil producer, security sources say.