Greek-operated oil tanker attacked off Togo

Pirates attacked a Greek-operated oil tanker with a crew of around 20 off the coast of Togo on Tuesday, the West African state’s armed forces said, in the latest in a spate of attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Guinea.

Army chief of staff Atcha Titikpina told a regional conference on piracy in the capital Lome that Togolese forces were still trying to locate the vessel after learning of the attack around 2 a.m. local time (0200 GMT).

Ship operator Golden Energy Management confirmed the attack and said it appeared to bear the hallmarks of an operation to steal the 56,000 tons of gasoil on board rather than to target the crew.

“It’s not piracy, it’s robbery,» a company official told Reuters in Athens. «It is carrying gasoil and it’s very possible that the robbers just want the cargo.”

A Togolese security ministry official said the attackers’ vessel fled in the direction of neighboring Benin after the incident, some 20 nautical miles (30 km) off the coast of Togo, but had no details on the whereabouts of the tanker. [Reuters]