The Nigerian Navy on Monday in Lagos paraded six suspected pirates it arrested for hijacking an oil tanker.
The Chief of Naval Training and Operations, Rear Adm. Henry Babalola, told journalists that the suspected pirates were arrested around Sao Tome after the gang had hijacked the vessel off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire.
Babalola said the arrest was made after a fierce gun battle with naval forces that left a suspect dead.
”Before the security forces got to the hijacked vessel, two crew members, an Indian and a Pakistan, had been kidnapped and taken away by two of the gang members.
”The hijackers, after sighting the naval ships, refused to surrender, shut downfall the oil tanker and opened fire on the security agents.
”It was at that point the deceased pirate was gunned down because he came out of the ship to confront the boarding party,” he said.
The Naval chief said that the operation was coordinated from the naval headquarters in Abuja and commended navies in the neighbouring countries for their cooperation.
Babalola warned pirates to desist from such illegal acts or face the consequences.
The captain of the hijacked tanker, Capt. Prilliea Krishna, expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Navy for coming to the crew’s rescue.
He pleaded with the navy authorities to help find the two crew members being held hostage by the gang.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the pirates had hijacked a Saudi Arabian tanker, MT MAXIMUS, chartered by a South Korean company.
NAN also gathered that the vessel, which was renamed MT ELVIS-5 by the hijackers to conceal it, was loaded with 4,700 metric tons of diesel.
NAN learnt that the Nigerian Navy deployed three naval ships, NNS OKPABANA, NNS CENTENARY and NNS SAGBAMA to smoke out the hijackers.