French Tankership Carrying 17 Crew Members Believed Hijacked by Pirates Off Ivory Coast

By Piracy

A French-owned tanker ship, sailing under the flag of Luxembourg - Gascogne, with 17 crew members which went missing off Ivory Coast at the weekend is considered to have been hijacked by Nigerian pirates, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) stated on Monday.
The International Maritime Bureau, a division of the International Chamber Of Commerce charged with fighting crimes in the maritime industry, issued a security alert for West Africa's Gulf of Guinea following a flood of violent attacks on ships in the last days.
The Gulf of Guinea is 2nd only to the waters nearby Somalia for piracy. The hijacking, if confirmed, would be the 2nd ship seizure off Ivory Coast in less than 3 weeks.
"The owner lost contact on the 3rd of February, 2013. We presume the tanker ship was hijacked with all 17 crew members onboard," told Noel Choong who is head of the IMB's piracy reports division, which is based in Malaysia.
"The current situation in the Gulf of Guinea is quite bad right now. There have been 3 attacks there in the past 5 days," he added, saying that the other accidents had happened off the coast of Nigeria.
Neither maritime officials in Luxembourg nor the International Maritime Bureau stated the nationalities of the vessel's crew members, but the Foreign Ministry of France confirmed that none of the crew were French.
Port authorities in the commercial capital Abidjan, Ivory Coast informed they were still investigating the circumstances surrounding the Gascogne tanker ship's disappearance, but added the vessel wasn't planned to dock in the country.