A Nigerian-flagged oil tanker was attacked by armed pirates off the coast of Nigeria in West Africa over the weekend, according to reports.
Gunmen are believed to have boarded the MT Matrix around 40 miles off the Nigerian state of Bayela early Saturday morning taking a number of crew hostage. 12 Pakistani and five Nigerian nationals are said to have been on board when it was attacked.
No official notification of a hijacking has been made yet as reports claim some shippers in the region don’t publicise incidents in fear of having their insurance premiums increased.
The news follows two attacks only last month in the Gulf of Guinea where foreigners were kidnapped and released a few weeks later. Some reports claimed ransoms were paid. The region which includes Africa’s top oil producer Nigeria has lately seen an increase in violent pirate attacks, hijacks and cargo thefts.
Estimates suggest pirates are likely to make as much as $2 million (£1.3m) in profits for offloading 3,000 tons of fuel. Foreign hostages draw tens of thousands of dollars in ransoms with nearly all released unharmed after their companies pay for their freedom.