Pirates have hijacked one tanker and looted another off West Africa this week.
The Geden Lines-managed 37,879 dwt products tanker ‘Cotton’ was hijacked and her 24-man crew taken hostage.
The tanker was seized off Port Gentil, Gabon. She was carrying a part cargo of fuel oil at the time of the hijacking, which was thought to have occurred on Monday, acording to Reuters, although the company said that it had lost contact with the vessel on Sunday.
It is the first reported attack in that region in the past five years, Reuters reported.
"The company is in contact with the families of the 24 Indian crew members on board and the appropriate authorities have been contacted," Geden Lines said in a statement to the newswire.
"The attack occurred around 200 nautical miles further south than the previous most southerly attack, which was around 160 miles southwest of Bonny Island (in Nigeria) on 26th April," security firm AKE told Reuters.
"It therefore marks a significant expansion of the geographical range of Gulf of Guinea piracy. It also demonstrates the regional nature of the illegal fuel trade, the supply of which tankers such as ‘Cotton’ are generally hijacked for," the security company added.
In another incident, pirates robbed a chemical tanker off the coast of Togo this week, a maritime agency and a security source said on Thursday, Reuters reported.
Gunmen in speedboats boarded the Marshall Islands-flagged 31,114 dwt products tanker ‘Ocean Centurion’ on Tuesday, around 45 miles southeast of Lome, before taking the ship's and the crew's money and belongings, a security source said.
The tanker's management company, Union Maritime, declined to comment, Reuters said.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) confirmed that an attack had taken place on a chemical tanker in a similar location but did not specify the name of the vessel.
"On 16th July, the robbers took two crew members and disembarked from the tanker with the rescue boat, taking along ship's cash, crew cash and personal belongings," a report on IMB's website said.
"The crew were released later. Three crew members were injured during the incident," it added.