Archive for August 16, 2011
Piracy surging off West Africa
The West African nation of Benin is looking to acquire aircraft and patrol boats to combat piracy off its waters.
James Knight, the U.S. ambassador to Benin, tells Reuters the country is looking to the U.S. and France for assistance in buying one or two patrol aircraft. Additionally, Knight says Benin is negotiating with France to acquire three patrol boats to supplement the two 27-foot patrol craft it received from the U.S. last year.
While pirates in the waters off Somalia in East Africa have garnered the world’s attention, officials say piracy is on the rise on Africa’s west coast in the Gulf of Guinea where ships carry oil, metals and agricultural products to world markets. Benin and neighboring Nigeria have reported more than 20 pirate incidents this year, according to the Guardian, a British newspaper. That’s small compared to more than 160 attacks off the Horn of Africa, but still indicates a growing problem.
“Armed pirates are violent,” says the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre, and in some incidents around Benin, “pirates fired at ships.”