1 killed, 4 Chinese abducted as pirates attack ship in Gabon

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LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — Authorities searched Monday for four Chinese crew members who were taken hostage by pirates in speedboats off Gabon’s capital over the weekend.

Government spokesman Edgard Anicet Mboumbou Miyakou confirmed Sunday that four vessels anchored in the bay off Libreville were targeted in the overnight attack. He said a Gabonese national, the commander of a vessel operated by the Satram company, was killed.

The four Chinese crew members taken hostage were working for the Sigapeche company, the spokesman said.

Security forces were searching for the attackers in collaboration with Interpol and sub-regional organizations, he said. Gabonese authorities were taking measures “to guarantee the safety of maritime traffic,” he said.

While attacks in the waters off Libreville are rare, piracy poses a growing threat in the Gulf of Guinea. The International Maritime Bureau says the Gulf of Guinea now accounts for about 82% of crew kidnappings in the world.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Monday told reporters the crew members’ whereabouts remained unknown. He said the Chinese embassy has asked Gabonese authorities to “immediately launch rescue efforts to spare no effort to rescue the Chinese personnel. We will continue to follow closely.”

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