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Officials: Pirates seize oil tanker in Ivory Coast

9:52 AM, Jan 21, 2013   |    comments
Panama flag/AP
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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) -- Ivory Coast's government says armed men have hijacked an oil tanker in the country's commercial capital.

Authorities first reported the hijacking of the Panamanian-flagged vessel, ITRI, on Monday. It began Wednesday as the tanker was preparing to deposit 5,000 tons of oil at the port of Abidjan.

A government statement said officials located the vessel off neighboring Ghana. It was not immediately clear how many crew members were on board, or whether the hijackers had given up control of the tanker. Authorities were mobilized over the issue.

Most hijackings in the region occur near oil-rich Nigeria. The first recorded vessel hijacking off Ivory Coast was in October when 14 men armed with knives and AK-47s boarded a tanker carrying 30,000 tons of gasoline. The crew was later released unharmed.

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