Lome - A Greek-operated oil tanker seized off Togo was tracked down on Wednesday off the coast of Nigeria under the control of pirates, the ship's operator and Togolese authorities said.
The seizure early on Tuesday of the ship, which is operated by Golden Energy Management, underscored the growing risks to shipping in the Gulf of Guinea, where piracy is rising but still not as common as off the coast of Somalia.
"The vessel is presently sailing off the coast of Nigeria under the control of pirates who have the intention to steal the cargo," Golden Energy Management said in a statement.
The firm said it was in touch with a French naval ship that was nearby and that the crew are believed to be in good health and unharmed.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said 23 Russian crew were aboard the tanker and added there was no immediate threat to their lives. It said the tanker was carrying some 50,000 tonnes of diesel and petrol fuel.
The Greek coast guard said earlier on Wednesday that 24 people were on board the tanker.
Colonel Inoussa Djibril, spokesman for the Togolese army chief of staff, confirmed the ship had been located in Nigerian waters with pirates on board.
According to the International Maritime Bureau's website, there have been eight attacks and attempted attacks off the coast of Togo since January.