Monday, November 7, 2011

Pirates release Halifax oil tanker off Nigeria

5 November 2011

Piracy has escalated in the Gulf of Guinea, prompting the UN to call for increased naval patrols.

An oil tanker seized by pirates off the coast of the Niger Delta last week has been released, officials in Nigeria say.

The vessel - the MT Halifax - was attacked near the oil city of Port Harcourt.

The crew of 25, mainly Filipinos, were said to be safe and accounted for.

The area has seen an increase in the number of hijackings of tankers as pirates target oil shipments moving out of Nigeria.

In most cases the cargo of fuel is taken off before the ship and crew are released unharmed - unlike in Somalia where crews and their ships are held until ransoms are paid, often after several months.

"The vessel is presently being escorted to Port Harcourt harbour by Nigerian Navy Patrol Team," a spokeswoman for the Nigerian Maritime Administration said.

"Part of the cargo was siphoned," she said.

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