Pirates have struck in the waters of the West African nation of Benin, killing a sailor. Reports say it is the first attack off Benin and experts warn of more attacks to come in West African waters.
The BBC says pirates attacked the oil tanker Cancale Star some 33 kilometres, or 18 nautical miles, from the Benin coast, killing a Ukrainian sailor. The officer commanding Benin’s naval forces, Commander Fernand Maxime Ahoyo says the victim was the ship’s chief engineer. Another sailor was wounded in the attack.
The crew overpowered one pirate, the report says, but the others got away. Ahoyo said Benin’s naval forces rescued the crew and took them to port.
The Liberian-flagged tanker had 24 crewmembers from different countries on board, including Filipinos, Lithuanians and other Ukrainians.
It was thought the pirates were from Nigeria, where fighting over oil rights has raged in the Niger Delta region. It is not known whether this latest incident is related to the Niger Delta conflict.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has also warned that piracy off West African waters is on the increase, with 100 incidents recorded last year. Unlike the Somali pirates, pirate attacks along the West African coast usually occur inshore.
The BBC said more than 10 ships and at least 200 crewmembers were being held hostage by Somali pirates.