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Pirates attack oil tanker

ABUJA — Armed pirates attacked an oil products tanker off the coast of Nigeria in West Africa and abducted an unknown number of crew, security sources said today.

Increasing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region, which includes Africa’s No. 1 oil producer Nigeria and is a significant source of cocoa and metals for world markets, is jacking up costs for shipping firms operating there.

The Nigerian-flagged MT Matrix was boarded by gunmen in the early hours of Saturday around 40 nautical miles off the coast of oil-producing Bayelsa state, two security sources said.

There were 12 Pakistani and five Nigerian crew aboard.

A spokesman for ship operator Val Oil Trading, who declined to give his name, confirmed there had been an “incident”, without giving further details.

International navies have not launched counter-piracy missions in the Gulf of Guinea, leaving the many vessels that anchor off Nigeria vulnerable to attack.

Piracy that was once a scourge off the coast of Somalia has been largely brought under control by international naval patrols and the stationing of armed guards aboard merchant vessels. (Reuters)

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