A French oil tanker was reported missing off the Ivory Coast on February 3 and was probably captured by pirates off the shore of Nigeria, stated the International Maritime Bureau.
The ship, which flies the flag of Luxembourg, has 17 crew members. "The owner lost contact on February 3. "We believe he was detained with 17 mariners on board," said Noel Choong, head of the division in BMI piracy monitoring agency, which is based in Malaysia. "The Luxembourg authorities have been informed of this incident by Sea-Tankers, the French shipowner's firm. The situation is being closely followed by Sea-Tankers' crisis group and the relevant authorities, said a statement by the government of Luxembourg.
Until now, the republic of Ivory Coast, (Côte d'Ivoire) had been free of the piracy that plagues the Gulf of Guinea. Such piracy is a commonplace in nearby Nigeria, the largest producer of petroleum Africa, where piracy has recently shown an uptick in the waters off Benin, where attacks on ships have increased significantly since 2011.
France is also contending with Islamist insurgents in Mali, where it has come to the aid of the Malian government and routed terrorists last week in and around the historic city of Timbuktu.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.