Togo - Pirates Seize Greek Oil Tanker, Kidnap 24 Crew Members


Pirates have seized a Greek-owned oil tanker and its 24 crew off the coast of Togo, a maritime group reports.
The attackers exchanged fire with a Togolese patrol boat but escaped on the tanker, the International Maritime Bureau says.
Piracy is said to be increasing in West Africa, with six ships seized in 2012.
Ships are usually held for several days and the cargo transferred to a waiting tanker, before the crew of the original ship is freed.

This is a different method to that used by Somali pirates, who demand a ransom for the ships they capture and often keep both vessels and crew for many months until they are paid.
Tuesday's attack is the latest to target West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, which follows the continent's southward curve from Liberia to Gabon. Over the last year, piracy there has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings and cargo thefts.
Last year, London-based Lloyd's Market Association, an umbrella group of insurers, listed Nigeria, neighbouring Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as Somalia, where two decades of war and anarchy have allowed piracy to flourish.
Pirates in West Africa have been more willing to use violence in their robberies, as they target the cargo, not the crew for ransom as is the case off Somalia. Analysts say many of the pirates come from Nigeria, where corrupt law enforcement allows criminality to thrive.
The attack on the Greek oil tanker comes about a week after a similar attack on another tanker in the region, Choong said. In that attack the pirates released the crew after stealing the oil onboard, he said.
"Judging the past attacks, they'll take the vessel for several days, ransack it, take the cargo and leave the sailors," Choong said.

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