Pirates have seized an Italian tanker carrying a cargo of diesel fuel in the Gulf of Guinea off Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin in West Africa, the Italian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday. The ship, the RBD Anema e Core with a crew of 23 on board, was taken in the early hours of Sunday when a number of assailants boarded. Two of the crew are Italians, the others are Filipino and Romanian. The Foreign Ministry’s crisis unit was in contact with Italian maritime officials and with the ship’s operators in the southern city of Naples, a spokesman said. Maxime Ahoyo, commander of Benin’s navy, said patrols had been deployed to seek the boat. ‘Everything is being done to trace the pirates as quickly as possible,’ he told reporters in Cotonou. Two Italian ships have been captured in recent months in the Indian Ocean on the opposite side of the continent, where pirate groups operating from the lawless Horn of Africa have been a scourge on international shipping for a number of years. Piracy is on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea, although it is not on the scale seen off Somalia, where armed sea-borne gangs are making millions of dollars in ransoms and becoming increasingly violent.
Date: 25 July 2011 Source : Khaleej Times