Hijacked Japanese Oil Tanker With 22 Indian Crew Members On Board Released

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Pirates have freed an oil tanker with 22 Indians on board that they had hijacked in West Africa on February 1.

The Panamanian-flagged vessel, called “Marine Express”, was earlier reported missing off the Benin coast in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. The vessel is owned by Ocean Transit Carrier SA, a Japanese company.

The 22 sailors were appointed on the ship by Anglo-Eastern Shipping, a Hong Kong firm.

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The ship was also carrying 13,500 tonnes of gasoline, said Reuters news agency.

“All crew members are reported to be safe and well and the cargo remains on board,” said Anglo-Eastern.

The Gulf of Guinea has become an increasing target for pirates who steal cargo and demand ransoms, even as piracy incidents fall worldwide, experts say.

The ship went missing less than a month after another vessel, “MT Barret”, disappeared off the coast of Benin in January, and was later confirmed to have been hijacked. The 22 crew of “MT Barret”, most of whom were Indians, were reportedly released after a ransom was paid.

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