By Evelyn Usman
LAGOS — Naval personnel attached to NNS Benin and NNS Ikot-Abasi, recently engaged in a gun battle with sea pirates who hijacked a vessel with 17 foreign crew members at the Lagos anchorage, killing two of them in the process.
The pirates, numbering eight and armed, reportedly hijacked the oil tanker, MT SP Brussels, about 120 nautical miles outside Lagos waters, killing two crew members.
Fifteen crew members from Pakistan, India and Ghana, were rescued.
Report said the pirates, who were operating in two speed boats, gained access into the oil tanker, a 35 gross tonnage vessel and 14 metric tonnes container capacity of product, with a Jacob’s ladder.
Four of them were said to have engaged two Police escorts in a shootout during which stray bullets hit two crew members, killing them on the spot, while another was injured.
The deceased, as gathered, were an Indian and the captain of the ship.
How tanker was hijacked
The pirates, who out-numbered the policemen attached to 43 Mobile Police Force of the Marine Police CMS, reportedly disarmed them, thereby forcing the fear-stricken crew members to scurry into a citadel inside the ship to hide.
Having taken over the oil tanker, the sea pirates were said to have held the crew members hostage and set sail apparently to offload the content.
A senior naval personnel who spoke with Vanguard, said naval vessels —NNS Benin and NNS Ikot-Abasi — went in their trail following information received from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). Sources added that the oil tanker with its call sign reading V7M17 communicated its last position on April 11, 2014 while it was at UTC terrestrial, heading to its destination at Lagos offshore.