Africa

Pirates free 22 Indian crewmen in Gulf of Guinea

Map showing Benin, its capital, Porto-Novo, and the Gulf of Guinea

A crew of 22 Indian nationals have been freed by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea off Benin in West Africa.

The crew was on board an oil tanker called the Marine Express, which went missing last Thursday and has also been released with its entire cargo of oil.

All crew members are safe, according to Anglo-Eastern Shipping, the Hong Kong firm that appointed them.

The incident occurred less than a month after another vessel was taken by pirates in the same area.

In January, a ship was hijacked in the region but was released six days later when a ransom was paid.

It is not clear if a ransom was paid for the Marine Express and its crew.

The Marine Express is registered in Panama. It is owned by Ocean Transit Carrier SA, a Japanese company, and it is managed by Anglo-Eastern Shipping.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, whose government had been working with authorities in the region, tweeted news of the release.

She thanked the governments of Nigeria and Benin in a separate tweet.

The BBC's Will Ross says that Africa's most dangerous waters used to be off Somalia but, after the deployment of international warships, the situation there has improved.

There are now more attacks in West Africa - more than one a week in 2017.

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