Crew Kidnapping Marks Return of West Africa Pirate Attacks

Photo (c) Shutterstock/ Iablonskyi Mykola
Photo (c) Shutterstock/Iablonskyi Mykola

The recent kidnapping of four crew members from a cargo ship off the Niger Delta marks the return of attacks in West Africa and illustrates the uncertainty surrounding maritime security in the region, according to maritime security firm Dryad Maritime. 

Dryad reports that the incident occurred on Monday, October 19th when armed pirates attacked and boarded an unidentified refrigerated cargo ship underway off the Niger Delta. Once onboard, the pirates stole ship’s cash, destroyed equipment and kidnapped four crewmembers before escaping. Authorities have been notified, but so far the no details relating to the identity of the attacked vessel or the location of the kidnapped crewmembers, Dryad says.

“This is the first incident reported at sea off the Niger Delta in five months and has taken place 100 NM further west than the spate of kidnappings which took place earlier this year,” Dryad says in its analysis of the report. “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 crewmembers were abducted for the purpose of ransom, in 2014 alone.”

Dryad adds that the incident marks a return to attacks for West Africa, an area that has experienced low levels of maritime crime in the last three months. In Dryad’s recent Maritime Crime Figures for Q3 2015 report, it was noted that the recent reduction in instances of maritime crime in the region was likely related to the increase in Nigerian Naval activities, but that their efforts alone would not be able to effectively police the whole of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.