By Jonathan Saul LONDON (Reuters) - Pirate gangs in West Africa are switching to kidnapping sailors and demanding ransom rather than stealing oil cargoes as low oil prices have made crude harder to sell and less profitable, shipping officials said on Tuesday. Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea - a significant source of oil, cocoa and metals for world markets - have become less frequent partly due to improved patrolling but also to lower oil prices, according to an annual report from the U.S. foundation Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), which is backed by the shipping industry. "They have had to move towards a faster model and that faster model is kidnappings," OBP's Matthew Walje said, noting that ransom payouts were as high as $400,000 in one incident.
By Lisa Barrington and Denis Dyomkin BEIRUT/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rebel fighters launched an assault in Syria's divided northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday and fired rockets on a hospital, in the latest violence to hit civilians as diplomats struggled to restore an unraveling ceasefire and resurrect peace talks. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group that monitors the conflict, said rebel rockets had killed 19 people in government-held territory, including an unspecified number at the al-Dabit hospital. Rebels had hit a government gun position with a guided missile.