Pirates released a ship carrying 22 Indian crew and 13,500 tonnes of petrol on Tuesday, four days after it went missing off the coast of Benin in northwest Africa, PTI reported. Pirates took over the ship on February 2 and shut down all communications systems before forcing the captain to set sail.
All members of the crew and the cargo are safe, but it is unclear whether a ransom was paid to the pirates.
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Hong Kong-based shipping company Anglo-Eastern, which was managing the ship, confirmed the release. “The ship, Marine Express, has been released and is back under the command of the captain,” Director General of Shipping, Malini Shankar, told PTI.
The Gulf of Guinea, off Cotonou, is known for a high risk of piracy. On January 9, the British shipping firm Union Maritime lost contact with the product tanker Barrett, which was at anchor off Cotonou. Pirates had hijacked the Barrett and held her crew members captive for six days while a “resolution process” was worked out. The pirates later let the crew and the vessel go.