Pirates kidnap 19 crew members of Greek tanker off Nigeria

18 Indians on board Hong Kong vessel kidnapped off Nigerian coast

18 Indians on board Hong Kong vessel kidnapped off Nigerian coast

Hong Kong-flagged crude supertanker the Nave Constellation, owned by Navios Maritime Acquisition Corporation, was attacked during the evening hours of December 3 while the ship was traveling through Nigerian waters.

Pirates have kidnapped 19 people from a Greek oil tanker in the Gulf of Guinea, in the third such case to happen in the region in just over a month.

Eighteen of the kidnapped were Indian nationals, along with one Turk, Reuters quoted an official with the ship's operator as saying.

"Our Mission in Nigeria has taken up the matter related to kidnapping of Indian crew members of the ship MT Nave Constellation off Bonny, Nigeria with Nigerian Government and Security agencies", an official source said.

Seven other crew members remain on board the vessel. "All the appropriate authorities, including the Flag State, have been alerted and are responding, and all the necessary action is being taken to secure their well-being and early release".

The waters of the Gulf of Guinea have suffered from sporadic incidents of piracy for a few years, but an attack on a supertanker is a rare event. The families have been informed, it said.

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The vessel was carrying crude for Indian refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp, a source at the company told Reuters.

In a further statement, the IMB said the gulf region made up 86% of hostage-taking of crew members and 82% of crew kidnappings.

The vessel was chartered by French oil company Total to deliver Bonny Light oil at Vizag in southern India, the source said.

"Recently, there has been a noticeable increase in attacks/hijackings/kidnapping of crews off these areas", the bureau's guidance says of Nigeria's oil-rich coast.

"Generally, all waters in/off Nigeria remain risky", the guidance says, noting that many attacks may have gone unreported in waters busy with traffic serving one of Africa's largest oil producers.

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