Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Another mariner killed by pirates off West Africa

The BBC is reporting that another pirate incident in the Gulf of Guinea has ended in the death of a mariner. Details are still thin, but the Panamaian-flagged tankship African Prince was apparently boarded by pirates last week while steaming near Lagos, Nigeria. The pirates took control of the tanker and her crew of 29, but the Ghanaian navy was able to respond to the hijacking. After shadowing the vessel, the Ghanian authorities were able to intercept the African Prince and rescue the crew of Nigerian and Pakistani mariners.

However, all of the pirates managed to escape and one member of the tankship's crew, an unnamed chef, was found dead, having been badly beaten by the boarders. The rest of the crew are helping authorities investigate this incident while heading their vessel back to Nigeria. The African Prince seems to have left Tema, east of Accra, earlier today, under escort from the Nigerian navy. The tankship belongs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company and is thought to have been transporting some 5000 tonnes of refined oil at the time of the attack.

This murder comes just a week after another seafarer was killed by suspected Nigerian pirates, in similar circumstances: In last week's incident, the tanker Cancale Star was boarded while sailing off Benin (due west of Nigeria and east of Ghana) and, in the course of being aboard, the pirates beat the chief officer so badly that he later died of his injuries. Four other crew were injured, one seriously.

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