Armed pirates attacked and boarded a refrigerated cargo ship underway off the Niger Delta and kidnapped four crew members on October 19, the U.K.-based maritime intelligence company Dryad Maritime reports.
There are currently no details relating to the identity of the attacked vessel or the location of the kidnapped crew members. The pirates also stole ship’s cash and destroyed equipment before escaping. Local authorities have been notified.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that two Lithuanian and two Ukrainian seamen were kidnapped out of 19 crew members on board the unidentified ship at the time of the accident.
This is the first incident reported at sea off the Niger Delta in five months, Dryad says, and it has taken place 100 NM further west than the spate of kidnappings which took place earlier this year.
It comes at a time when the Nigerian Navy are conducting increased patrols of the approaches to the Bonny River, and these patrols may have forced this criminal gang to look into operating in this wider area of West Africa.
This area has a recent history of maritime attacks with six reported cases of attacks on vessels, where 13 crew members were abducted for the purpose of ransom, in 2014 alone.
This incident marks a return to attacks for West Africa, an area that has experienced low levels of maritime crime in the last three months, according to Dryad.
The recent reduction in instances of maritime crime in the region was likely related to the increase in Nigerian Naval activities, but this incident is congruent with Dryad’s analysis that their efforts alone would not be able to effectively police the whole of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.