An oil tanker with 23 crew members hijacked earlier this month off the coast of West Africa has been released according to report by the Associated Press. The vessel, the Spanish-owned Mattheos I, was boarded Sept. 15 by a group of pirates approximately 62nm SW of Cotonou, Benin while conducting ship-to-ship transfer operations.
The pirates, unlike their Somali counterparts, released the ship without any payment of ransom but rather stole fuel the ship was carrying as cargo.
All 23 crew members are reported to be ok except for one who was apparently struck and slightly injured by one of the pirates. The AP says the ship is now off the coast of Nigeria.
Since May this year, there has been increasing reports of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and off the coast of West Africa, prompting the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre to issue a specific warning in June. Fears that insufficient reporting from the region could mean the actual number of incidents may be far higher than expected.