A naval official says that an Italian ship has been attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Benin.

Maxime Ahoyo, Commander of the Naval Forces of Benin, said on Sunday that they received a distress signal overnight and two patrols have been sent to intervene.

Italian news agency Ansa reported on Sunday that the Italian-owned ship had 23 crew members aboard, including 20 Filipinos, two Italians and a Romanian national commander.

A wave of violent and highly organised attacks has hit the coast of West Africa, according to a July statement by the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.

It said 12 tankers had already been attacked off Benin since March in an area that was free of pirates last year.

More In: International | News