LONDON–A vessel hijacked last week off the Ivory Coast has been released after the cargo of 5,000 metric tons of fuel oil was stolen, the ship’s Nigerian manager said Tuesday.
“The entire cargo on board had been discharged while the crew were locked up in the junior officers mess room,” said Jubril Rowaye, chairman at Brila Energy.
The Panamanian-flagged ITRI was seized last Wednesday by gunmen as the vessel was preparing to offload its cargo at the Ivory Coast Port.
The theft highlights the dangers threatening a key transit route along the Gulf of Guinea, where recorded incidents of piracy have more than doubled in the past year, according to a recent report by the International Maritime Bureau.
In October, suspected Nigerian pirates seized an oil tanker off Ivory Coast, 400 miles west of Nigeria, the first hijacking to take place off Ivory Coast.
Sarah Kent (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.