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West Africa

Pirates this time take a French oil tanker

Pirates this weekend seized a French-owned oil tanker off the coast of Ivory Coast, capturing 17 crew members. It is the latest attack in West Africa, a new locus of ocean-bound piracy.

Pirates have shifted much of their business to the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea since nations and private companies have banded together to resist them in East Africa. There is relatively light security in the area, allowing the pirates to operate with relative freedom. Unlike in East Africa, where the main business has been ransoming captured crew members, the West Africa pirates spend five or six days siphoning off the oil, then—so far at least—have freed the crews.

The International Maritime Bureau said there have been three attacks in all over the last five days. Two off the coast of Nigeria were repulsed. But an oil tanker called the Gasogne, owned by the French company SEA-Tankers, was captured on Feb. 3, the IMB said. There has been no word from its crew or the pirates.

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