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Pirates kill seaman in W.Africa tanker attack
COTONOU — Pirates attacked an oil tanker off the coast of west Africa, killing a Ukrainian officer before escaping with the contents of the ship’s safe, the ship’s owners and Benin’s navy commander said Tuesday.
Commander Maxime Ahoyo said the officer on the Monrovia-flagged Cancale Star was shot dead when he confronted the pirates after they boarded the vessel in darkness 18 nautical miles (33 kilometres) off the coast of Benin.
The tanker’s Latvian captain, Jaroslavs Semenovics, said around six or seven pirates had approached the tanker in a speed boat.
“They came on deck, pointed a pistol to the head of one of the sailors, marched him to the cabin,” Semenovics told AFP.
“They asked me to open the safe and they collected all the cash,” he added. He did not say how much was stolen.
The 230-metre (750-foot) Cancale Star was carrying 89,000 cubic metres of crude from Nigeria’s Niger Delta, the captain said.
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Medics aboard the vessel said four other crew members were wounded in the attack, one seriously.
The pirates fled after a member of the tanker’s crew raised the alarm by sounding a siren, with the crew managing to overpower a pirate and hand him over to police for questioning.
The captured pirate said he was from a Nigerian border town.
The multinational crew of 24 includes Russians, Filipinos, Latvians and Ukrainians, Radings said.
Piracy in oil-rich west African waters is on the rise, according to the International Maritime Bureau, with more than 100 cases last year.
Most attacks occur while ships are at anchor or close to the shore, unlike in east Africa, where Somali pirates have netted millions of dollars in ransoms in exchange for the release of ships captured hundreds of miles from the coast.
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It said that pirates have attacked and robbed vessels and kidnapped crews along the coast and rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters.
Officials voiced fears earlier this year that west African pirates would copy the tactics of Somali gangs.
From January to September of this year, the International Maritime Organisation reported 160 acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, including 34 hijacked vessels and more than 450 people made hostage
What shall we call this? Poor people gone wild? There are after all no fish in the sea.