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Pirates kill Greek sailor, rob crew off Cameroon

By on January 26, 2009

YAOUNDE, Jan 26 (Reuters) – A Greek sailor was shot dead by pirates off the coast of Cameroon at the weekend, the state radio broadcaster said on Monday, the latest in a series of attacks on shipping in African waters.

Around 30 armed pirates travelling in three boats seized one Greek vessel on Saturday in the Atlantic off Kribi, south of the main port city Douala, and were taking it towards international waters when a sister ship gave chase.
“The pirates then opened fire on the second vessel, climbed into the cabin and shot the captain … three times in the neck,” the radio report said.
Shipping lanes off both the east and west coasts of Africa have become increasingly dangerous in recent months.
The Greek merchant marine ministry identified the victim as Theodoros Mastaloudis.
“A Greek sailor was killed on Saturday evening, when two fishing ships were attacked by pirates off Douala, in Cameroon. No one else was injured,” said a ministry official who declined to be named.
The pirates robbed the crew of the second ship before abandoning both vessels and escaping in their own boats, state radio said. The Cameroonian navy rescued the 40 surviving crew of the two Greek ships later on Saturday.
The United Nations and Western law enforcement agencies have said they are concerned about piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, especially off Cameroon and major oil producer Nigeria.
Gunmen have used fast launches to raid and rob banks and ships in an area where Niger Delta oil militants are already fighting Nigerian government forces.
Last October gunmen seized 10 crew members of a French oil supply vessel off Cameroon, later releasing them unharmed. The militia groups responsible have said they object to Nigeria’s transfer of the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon in August, obeying a ruling by the International Court of Justice.
Off East Africa, scores of attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean have pushed up insurance costs, prompted navies to scramble to protect merchant vessels, and earned Somali pirates tens of millions of dollars in ransoms.

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