Crew members missing after Gulf of Guinea pirate attack

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Nigerian naval special forces patrol during a navy exercise with the United States and 33 other countries in 2019 in the Gulf of Guinea [File: Sunday Alamba/AP]

The hijacked ship has been found abandoned, but an unknown number of its crew is still missing.

Pirates have abandoned a Danish-owned ship hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea last week but have taken some crew members with them while others have been brought to safety, the vessel’s owner says.

The Liberian-flagged oil and chemicals tanker Monjasa Reformer was boarded on Saturday by five armed people 225km (140 miles) west of the Republic of Congo’s Port Pointe-Noire, its owner, Monjasa, said at the time. Sixteen crew members were on board.

The Reformer subsequently went missing but was later located by the French navy off Sao Tome and Principe, Monjasa said on Friday.

“Our thoughts are with the crew members still missing and their families during this stressful period,” the company said. “Monjasa will continue working closely with the local authorities to support our seafarers safe return to their families.”

The rescued crew members are all in good health, and no damage was reported to the ship or its cargo, it said.

The Gulf of Guinea, described by the International Maritime Bureau as one of the world’s most dangerous shipping routes, covers 11,000sq km (4,247sq miles) and stretches from Angola to Senegal.

Since 2021, piracy cases have been on the decline due to cooperation among countries in the region and deployments of foreign naval ships, according to the United Nations Security Council.

Denmark, which has large commercial shipping interests, deployed a frigate to the gulf in 2021 to protect shipping, but the ship was pulled back last year after the outbreak of the Ukraine war.

In November 2021, a Danish naval patrol killed four pirates in an exchange of fire just outside Nigeria’s territorial waters.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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