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Pirates hijacked tanker off Angola: owners Angolan navy denies piracy

LISBON/ATHENS, Jan 27, (RTRS): The Greek owners of an oil tanker that vanished off the Angolan coast on Jan 18 said on Sunday that pirates had hijacked the vessel and stolen a large quantity of cargo, contradicting the Angolan navy’s denial that such an assault took place. Greece-based Dynacom, owners of the 75,000 deadweight tonne Liberian-flagged tanker MT Kerala, said it had managed to contact crew on the vessel who reported the pirates had left. “Pirates hijacked the vessel offshore Angola and stole a large quantity of cargo by ship-to-ship transfer. The pirates have now disembarked,” the company said in a statement. It did not provide any further details on the attack or the ship’s current location but added that all crew were safe.

Dynacom’s version of the events contradicted an account from the Angolan navy, which alleged the crew had turned off the ship’s communications to fake a pirate attack. Captain Augusto Alfredo, spokesman for the Angolan navy, told Reuters earlier on Sunday that the ship had been located in Nigeria and that reports of a hijacking were false. The reports raised concern that piracy off West Africa was spreading south from the Gulf of Guinea, near Africa’s biggest oil producer Nigeria, where most hijacking gangs are believed to originate. Pirate attacks jumped by a third last year off West Africa. Any attack off Angola, which is the continent’s No. 2 crude producer, would be the most southerly to date.

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