Pirates hijack Ghanaian fishing vessel

Items found on the pirates(inset)ONE Ghanaian fisherman died, and three others are said to be missing, after Nigerian pirates hijacked their fishing vessel in Ghanaian waters.

They were part of a 28-member crew, made up of 22 Ghanaians and six Chinese, on board a Ghanaian registered vessel, “Lurong Yuan Yu 917”, which was hijacked last Thursday.

The armed Nigerian pirates, said to be about 10 in number, were believed to have held the crew captive for three days, after hijacking the vessel in the general area of Dixcove in Ghanaian waters.

The pirates, who were trying to cross from Togo to Nigeria, managed to escape from the ship after the Togo Navy stopped the vessel.

Commander Raymond Kyaano, Operations Officer for the Eastern Naval Command, briefing newsmen about the incident, said that after holding the vessel for three days, the pirates ordered the captain to sail towards Togo on Saturday.

He said the Navy became suspicious of the movement of the vessel when it entered Togolese waters, adding that the Ghana Navy subsequently alerted the Togo Navy to check on the vessel, indicating a suspicion of hijacking.

Following that, he said a Togo Navy ship trailed the fishing vessel, which was then crossing Togo into Benin, and detected that it had been hijacked.

He said the Togo Navy pursued the pirates and when they came close, most of the fishermen who had then broken loose, dived into the sea to swim towards the Navy vessel.

According to Commander Kyaano, the pirates butchered one of the fishermen as he tried to dive into the water, adding that although the victim managed to dive and swim to the navy ship, he died later on.

Commander Kyaano said 23 of them managed to swim to the navy ship, but three others were yet to be found.

According to him, the hijacked vessel was found abandoned by the pirates, and when it was searched pump action guns, live cartridges and explosives were found.

He said the pirates took away laptop computers, mobile phones and other personal effects belonging to the crew, indicating that all the surviving crew members including the captain, engineer and deckmen who remained on the vessel have been returned to Ghana, with the help of the Ghana Navy.

From Dzifa Tetteh, Tema

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