Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oil tanker hijacked off Nigeria; crew could include Indians

From Paul Ohia Abuja, Nov 4 (PTI) Pirates hijacked an oil tanker off the coast of Nigeria's southern delta with two Indians suspected to be a part of the crew, officials said. The pirates, armed with guns, boarded the cargo ship MT Halifax yesterday near Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, they said, adding the crew might have consisted of two Indians, an Italian and a Filipino but it remains unclear how many crew members were on board or if any have been injured. The nationality of the crew was indicated on the website of the ship owners, Ancora Investment Trust Inc based in Greece. The pirates sailed farther into the waters of Gulf of Guinea with the ship and have not yet been tracked by Nigerian security agencies, the officials said. A security company, AKE Limited, said if the ship is hijacked, it is likely to be held by hijackers for close to a week during which they would offload the contents before releasing the ship. Incidents of hijacking are not new to the region. In July, assailants hijacked a Greek oil tanker with 20 crew members on board. The ship-- 'Aegean Star'- which was released a few days later belonged to Endeavour Marine Agency based in Greece's main port of Piraeus. Over the last few months, piracy in the region has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings and cargo thefts.

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