Archive for September 14, 2011
More Trouble in the Gulf of Guinea
Another ship has been attacked by pirates off the coast of Benin in West Africa. According to news reports, pirates hijacked an oil tanker and took 23 crew members hostage.
The ship was said to be a Cyprus-flagged vessel carrying oil. The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, says attacks by armed pirates are increasing in the Gulf of Guinea near Benin’s commercial capital, Cotonou.
“Armed pirates are violent and in some incidents, pirates fired at ships,” the IMB Piracy Reporting Center says, adding: “A number of ships particularly tankers were attacked and hijacked.
There have also been incidents off Nigeria near Lagos and the Bonny River. “Generally, all waters in Nigeria remain risky,” the IMB says.
Another West African hotspot for piracy is near Conakry, Guinea, where pirates have sometimes donned military uniforms to get close to targeted ships. In most cases, the pirates have steamed the hijacked ship to a hidden location to offload the cargo — usually oil. The crews are usually released although their treatment has been harsh.
While piracy in West African waters has not risen to the level off the Horn of Africa on the other side of the continent, there have been about 20 incidents in the Gulf of Guinea this year.
Most of the nations in the region don’t have adequate resources to mount long term anti-pirate patrols, although some, like Benin, are considering beefing up their patrol fleets.