By Joe Bavier
ABIDJAN | Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:56am EST
(Reuters) - A French-owned Luxembourg-flagged tanker with 17 crew members that went missing off Ivory Coast at the weekend is believed to have been hijacked by Nigerian pirates, the International Maritime Bureau said on Monday.
The IMB, a division of the International Chamber Of Commerce charged with fighting maritime crime, issued a security alert for West Africa's Gulf of Guinea following a spate of violent attacks on vessels in recent days.
The Gulf of Guinea is second only to the waters around Somalia for piracy. The hijacking, if confirmed, would be the second vessel seizure off Ivory Coast in less than three weeks.
"The owner lost contact on (February) 3rd. We believe it was hijacked with 17 crew on board," said Noel Choong, head of the IMB's piracy reports division based in Malaysia.