By Godwin Oritse with agency report
THE Ghana Navy is in hot pursuit of pirates who hijacked a vessel from the Tema anchorage and proceeded towards Togolese waters but abandoned the operation midway.
The Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Naval Command Commodore, James Kontoh, said this shortly after a Ghana Navy operation rescued five persons, one of them a Ghanaian, from the abandoned vessel.
According to a Ghanaian media, GhanaWeb, some of the hijacked persons were beaten by their abductors before being abandoned aboard the vessel.
Commodore Kontoh said collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and their Ghanaian counterparts was ongoing, adding that the measure would go a long way in thwarting activities of pirates.
The daredevil hijack mission started with a fishing vessel going missing from the Tema anchorage, having been taken away by the suspected Nigerian pirates who abandoned it later on the Keta high seas.
The hijackers had planned to move the tuna vessel to Bayelsa State but abandoned the idea due to fuel shortage. A traumatized crew member found aboard the abandoned vessel was taken to a health facility for attention.
The tuna vessel with official No. 316694 and registration AFT28 had docked at Berth 10 at the Port of Tema and found onboard by the Navy were live rounds, among other items.
The rescue mission was preceded by a series of information by the Navy about vessels coming under attack by pirates – a situation which reportedly prompted the Ghana Navy to raise its alert level.
“For the past 48 hours, we have had a series of attacks which we tried to unravel. It all happened Monday dawn about 03:30 when a speed boat came to the Tema anchorage area and forcefully took over a vessel and started heading towards the Togolese waters until the vessel complained of not having enough fuel to continue the journey,” Commodore Kontoh said.
He added that in a sequence of events, the hijackers let go the first vessel and descended upon a tanker vessel. “The hijackers transferred three persons from the first vessel to the second one. There was a shortage of fuel and so their order for the vessel to head for Bayelsa in Nigeria was abandoned. They then turned to a fishing vessel and took two crew members including the first three into the fishing vessel and proceeded towards Benin waters close to Nigerian waters.
“When night fell, the hijackers moved their kidnapped persons into their speed boats and headed for an unknown location,” the Navy officer narrated.
It was after the hijackers had left that the fishing vessel sent a signal about their situation when the Navy sent a team to save the distressed crew.