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Possible tanker hijacking reported off Angola

Possible tanker hijacking reported off Angola
Liberian-flagged tanker Kerala has gone missing off the coast of Angola, with local authorities fearing a hijacking – further south than any previous West Africa piracy incident.

The 74,999 dwt tanker, last sighted seven nm off Luanda, Angola, would become the second vessel owned by Dynacom Tankers to be hijacked by pirates, following an incident with Smyrni in 2013.

The vessel’s sudden loss of communications would be consistent with warning from security firm Dryad Maritime Intelligence of a suspect vessel, identified as a 200-ton tug, heading toward the coast of Angola. The tug was also sighted in a restricted area off the coast of Angola on 17 January, close to the anchorage of Kerala.

Dryad intelligence director Ian Millen called the information “a worrying development”.

“We have been watching Nigerian based pirates launch an increasing number of attacks on vessels in areas not normally associated with piracy of late. If substantiated, this latest incident demonstrates a significant extension of the reach of criminal groups and represents a threat to shipping in areas that were thought to be safe”. 

So far Dryad has reported two attacks off the coast of Equatorial Guinea, including the boarding of a tanker, Super League; and the hijacking and kidnapping of three crew members from cargo vessel San Miguel.

Meanwhile, piracy in East Africa is still active, with reports of Somali pirates firing on a product tanker off Salalah.