(TheGuardian) The Nigerian navy used its “superior firepower” late last week to foil a pirate attack on a British-flagged freighter and rescue the crew in an encounter off the west African coast, a spokesman said.
Commodore Christian Ezekobe said the navy deployed a warship after receiving a distress call on Wednesday that pirates were about to hijack the MT Vectis Osprey 20 nautical miles off Bonny in southern Rivers state.
“NNS Nwamba engaged the attackers on approaching the vessel which made them abandon their mission due to superior firepower,” he said.
“To this end naval special forces on board the warship embarked and rescued the crew who locked up themselves in a citadel in the merchant tanker.”
Ezekobe said both the crew and cargo of the vessel were safe while an investigation had been launched.
Ship hijackings have become more frequent in waters off Nigeria since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in Nigeria in 2015 and announced plans to wind down an amnesty to former militants in the delta region.
Previously payments were offered in exchange for an end to the violence, which included the kidnapping of oil workers and sabotage of pipelines that plagued the region in the 2000s.
A new militant group the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has been blamed for a wave of deadly attacks on pipelines since the beginning of the year.
The NDA has said it wants more wealth for residents of the region in addition to self-determination and political autonomy.
On Thursday the Avengers, who have rejected a government peace offer, threatened to secede by pulling the oil region out of Nigeria.
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