A French-flagged tanker has gone missing in piracy-plagued waters off West Africa, the International Maritime Bureau said Friday, warning other ships in the area to be on guard.
The owners of the vessel lost contact with it early Thursday while it was in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Togo, the IMB’s Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre said in an alert.
“All vessels are requested to keep a sharp lookout for the missing tanker,” the centre said.
“Vessels are also advised to maintain a strict anti-piracy watch and measures in these waters.”
The Gulf of Guinea, which includes waters off Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, has emerged as a new piracy hotspot with 32 incidents so far this year and 62 incidents recorded in 2012 including hijackings, kidnappings and killings.
Pirates in the area typically target fuel cargo, loading it onto other ships to sell on the lucrative black market, rather than seek ransom to release ships, the IMB said.