Gunmen Released fuel Tanker and Crew Hijacked off Nigerian coast

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Gunmen have freed a fuel tanker ship, hijacked off the coast of Nigeria, security sources and the ship's manager commented on Wednesday.

Indian-based managers of the hijacked tanker ship, Medallion Marine lost contact with the Marshall Islands-flagged SP Atlanta on Sunday evening, August 11, 2013 but resumed communication late on Tuesday.

"There was an accident on Sunday but the tanker ship SP Atlanta is now fully under control of the company manager and, most importantly, all the crew members aboard are safe and in good condition," the spokesman told, without giving details of what occurred during the period of lost contact.

Two security sources reported that gunmen boarded the tanker ship while it was anchored near port Lagos, in the latest case of piracy off the coast of Africa's top oil exporter.

Tankers seized off Nigeria are usually freed after the oil, gasoline or other fuel onboard is transferred to smaller ships. Sometimes crew members are kidnapped for ransoms.

Pirate attacks off West Africa's mineral-rich Gulf of Guinea have nearly doubled from last year and threaten to jeopardise the shipping of commodities from the area. They have already jacked up insurance costs.

The SP Atlanta tanker ship was attacked by gunmen last year off the coast of Nigeria's oil hub Port Harcourt but security guards onboard were able to prevent the pirates boarding, security sources said.