Armed Pirates Kidnap Crew of Vessel in South Nigeria
Four crew members of an unnamed vessel have been kidnapped in a piracy incident. Armed men boarded the vessel in Port Harcourt, which is in the south region of Nigeria. There were 19 crewmembers aboard the ship when the pirates attacked.
Officials believe that the men taken captive are Lithuanian and Ukrainian. The Lithuanian government reported that the incident took place late Monday evening. According to reports, the pirates forcibly boarded the vessel and took cash, destroyed some of the ship’s equipment, then fled. They took the four crewmembers with them as their hostages. As of now, the pirates have not made any ransom demands for their captives.
The High Price of Piracy
Reports show that this is the first piracy incident to take place off the Niger Delta in five months—where piracy has been at an all-time low recently. The last incident took place in April when three Surfer 1440 crewmembers were kidnapped.
The Nigerian government has been working to combat piracy since it spiked in 2008. They claim that around $9 million is lost every year because of piracy. More than that, they report hundreds of millions lost in ransoms to pirates.
Nigerian Government Takes Stand Against Pirate Attacks
Nigeria is serious about curbing piracy. In September, they joined with the Republic of Togo to form an anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Guinea, as both countries are located on this gulf and face the effects of rampant piracy. Togo claims that the region suffers losses exceeding $7 billion every year due to piracy incidents.
The incident comes at a time when the Nigerian Navy has increased the number of patrols around the Bonny River. Some suspect that this increased naval activity may have forced the pirates to expand their attacks to a wider area around West Africa. While the Nigerian naval presence has helped curb some incidents, more partnerships such as the one between Nigeria and the Republic of Togo will likely be needed to sufficiently combat the high level of piracy in these waters.