Monday, July 25, 2011

Italian tanker Anema e Core seized by pirates off Benin

Pirates have hijacked an Italian diesel tanker off Benin in western Africa in an attack of the kind more usually associated with Somalia.

Assailants boarded the RBD Anema e Core early on Sunday in the Gulf of Guinea, officials in Benin and Italy confirmed.

Two of the 23 crew are Italians, the others Filipinos and a Romanian.

Benin's navy said it was following the hijacked ship while Italy's foreign ministry liaised with its owner in Naples.

Three pirates managed to board the ship 23 nautical miles (43km) south of Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin, Italian media said.

"Everything is being done to trace the pirates as quickly as possible," Maxime Ahoyo, commander of Benin's navy, told reporters in Cotonou.

The Gulf of Guinea has become increasingly important for its potential energy reserves which have attracted international interests, BBC West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy reports from Dakar.

The US, for example, hopes to import about a quarter of its oil supplies from the region by 2015. (more)