Pirates have hijacked a crude oil tanker off the Nigerian coast, taking three hostages and killing the vessel's Greek deputy commander, the Greek coastguard has said.

The Malta-flagged Kalamos was anchored and awaiting fresh cargo from Qua Iboe, an oil terminal in Nigeria's southeastern region operated by ExxonMobil, before being attacked on Wednesday.

Two of the three hostages are Greek, and Greeks make up 10 out of the total 23 crew, a spokeswoman for the coastguard told AFP news agency.

The hijacking of the 15-year-old tanker took place in the Gulf of Guinea, a region which has seen spurt in piracy.

Between January and September last year the area recorded 33 incidents of piracy and armed robbery, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

It said the pirates operating off the coast of Nigeria, Togo and Benin are heavily armed and violent, and often hold crews hostage for several days.

Source: AFP