Hijacked tanker freed, crew safe

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iol pic afr french tanker - ivory coast AFP File image

Abidjan - A Luxembourg-flagged, French-owned products tanker hijacked by suspected Nigerian pirates off the Ivory Coast at the weekend has been released, and its 17-person crew is safe, the vessel's owner said on Wednesday.

SEA-Tankers, which owns the vessel Gascogne, lost contact with the ship around 130km off the West African nation's coast on Sunday morning.

It was the second tanker hijacking in Ivorian waters in the last three weeks and occurred amid a spike in armed hijacking in the Gulf of Guinea, which is second only to the waters off Somalia for piracy.

"SEA-Tankers are pleased to report that product tanker Gascogne has been released," the company said in a statement.

"All 17 seafarers are reported safe, however sadly two seafarers were injured during the incident but are being taken care of," the statement read.

France's foreign ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the ship was released late on Tuesday. It said the Gascogne had been taken to Forcados in Nigeria where around 200 tons of its cargo of diesel fuel were stolen.

The ship is currently sailing towards the port of Lome in Togo, the ministry said. - Reuters

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