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Panamanian-Flagged Oil Tanker Seized Off Ivory Coast

1/21/2013 8:26 AM ET

Gunmen have seized a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker off Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, reports quoting government and shipping officials said.

The vessel, ITRI, was preparing to unload 5,000 tons of oil on Wednesday last at the port of Abidjan, when the pirates boarded the oil tanker.

The assailants forced the vessel to waters off neighboring Ghana, said reports quoting a statement by the Ivory Coast government and Ivorian-based shipping company Koda Maritime.

Sixteen Nigerian crew were on board ITRI, BBC quoted Koda Maritime's deputy director Serge Constant as saying on Monday.

The latest incident of piracy occurred on the day a global maritime watchdog reported that piracy on the world's seas reached a five-year low in 2012.

But the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), an arm of the International Chamber of Commerce, said in the global piracy report released on Wednesday that East and West Africa remain the worst hit areas, with half of all the attacks in 2012.

The first vessel hijacking off the coast of Ivory Coast was recorded in October last year, when a panamax product tanker was seized by suspected Nigerian pirates off Abidjan. This shows the increased range of Nigerian pirates, the report had warned.

by RTT Staff Writer

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