Africa

Pirates seize Russian captain, 2 crew in waters off Nigeria

The Russian Embassy in Nigeria says pirates have kidnapped the Russian captain and two crewmen off a ship in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea.

Spokesman Artyom Romanov says the pirates hijacked the Greek-flagged Saronic Breeze off the coast of Benin on Tuesday and sailed the vessel to Nigeria before abandoning it in waters near Nigeria's southeastern oil capital of Port Harcourt.

He says the pirates have taken three Russian hostages — the captain, second engineer and a cook.

Romanov says Russian diplomats are working to secure their release.

Ship hijackings and kidnappings of crew are common in the region with hostages often released unharmed after a ransom is paid. Bandits usually target oil tankers and sell the crude but the Saronic Breeze is listed as a refrigerated reefer.