Pirates free Italian tanker
Rome – Pirates who seized an Italian tanker with a crew of 23 off Benin in the Gulf of Guinea released it Thursday and the mostly Filipino crew was safe, Italian news agency ANSA reported early on Friday.
The ship was heading for a safe place and “the members of the crew are in good health”, the captain was reported as saying.
The Rbd Anema e Core and its crew comprising 20 Filipino seamen, two Italians and a Romanian captain was captured early on Sunday. ANSA said three pirates managed to board the ship, which was carrying fuel oil, 23 nautical miles south of Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin.
Italy’s foreign ministry said its crisis unit was in touch with the Naples-based shipowner and was following the situation closely.
Italy stepped up its measures against piracy earlier in July, clearing commercial ships sailing through dangerous waters to use private security guards or soldiers for protection.
It was not clear whether the Rbd Anema e Core was carrying armed guards.
Pirates have seized several Italian boats in the last few years.
Earlier this month, the Liberian-flagged Greek oil tanker Aegean Star, which was hijacked by gunmen off the coast of Nigeria, was released along with its 20-strong crew.
On April 21 Somali pirates captured an Italian cargo ship headed for Iran with 21 crew on board, including six Italians, in the Arabian Sea near Oman.
And in February, pirates wielding rocket-launchers seized a large Italian oil tanker with a crew of five Italians and 17 Indians east off the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean.
After that attack, Italy’s ship owners association Confitarma called for ships to have armed guards aboard.
The use of barbed wire or water cannon was “no longer enough” against “aggressive and dangerous” pirates, they argued.