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Nigeria still top global piracy hotspot, says IMB

The International Maritime Bureau has grouped Nigeria as a top piracy hotspot and described the nation’s waters as risky based on the high rate of deadly attack on vessels around the country.

In its latest piracy report released on Tuesday, the IMB said that there had been 20 attacks reported against ships within the first nine months of 2016.

It stated that 16 of the 20 attacks occurred off the coast of Brass, Bonny and Bayelsa and guns were used in 18 of the incidents while vessels were ‘underway’ in 17 of the 20 reported attacks.

The IMB further stated that 39 of the 49 crew members kidnapped globally occurred off Nigerian waters in seven separate incidents.

Other crew kidnapping cases in 2017 were reported 60 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria, according to the organisation.

“In general, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky, despite intervention in some cases by the Nigerian Navy. We advise vessels to be vigilant. The number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea could be even higher than our figures as many incidents continue to be unreported,” the Director of IMB, Pottengal Mukundan, was quoted as saying.

The organisation also said a total of 121 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported globally in the first nine months of 2017.

In total, 92 vessels were boarded; 13 were fired upon; there were 11 attempted attacks and five vessels were hijacked in the first nine months of 2017, it stated.

The flagship global report noted that while piracy rate was down compared to the same period in 2016, there were continuing concerns over attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and South East Asia.

It stated in part, “The increase in attacks off the coast of Venezuela and other security incidents against vessels off Libya – including an attempted boarding in the last quarter – highlights the need for vigilance in other areas.

“While only three low-level incidents took place in Venezuela during the same period in 2016, the number this year racked up to 11. All vessels were successfully boarded by robbers armed with guns or knives and mostly took place at anchorage. Four crew members were taken hostage during these incidents, with two assaulted and one injured.

“No incident was reported off the coast of Somalia in this quarter, though the successful attacks earlier in the year suggest that pirates in the area retain the capacity to target merchant shipping at distances from the coastline.”


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