Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Ghana returns Nigeria oil tanker after pirate attack


A hijacked Nigerian oil tanker that was intercepted by the Ghanaian navy is being returned to Nigeria.

A BBC correspondent in Ghana said the ship was hijacked off the Nigerian coast near Lagos last week and captured by the Ghanaian navy after a chase.

He said all the pirates got away and one member of the 29-strong crew, a chef, was found dead, badly beaten.

Pirate attacks have been on the rise in West Africa. Last week, an oil tanker by attacked off Benin.

The International Maritime Bureau says there were some 100 pirate attacks in West Africa last year.

The tanker, the African Prince, belongs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company and was thought to be carrying more than 5,000 tonnes of refined oil.

Nigeria is one of the world's biggest oil producers but has a major problem with oil theft by crime syndicates in the oil-producing Niger Delta region.

Ghana's defence ministry says the ship is being escorted back home by the Nigerian navy.

The rest of the crew - 22 Nigerians and six Pakistanis - have been helping the Ghanaian authorities with their investigations.

Following the recent pirate attacks in the region, Ghana says it is strengthening its maritime security.

The IMB says attacks in West Africa usually take place while ships are at anchor or close to coastal areas, unlike in eastern Africa, where Somali pirates strike ships hundreds of miles out to sea.

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