Lagos (Nigeria): Armed pirates raided a
tanker off the West African coast and kidnapped 23 sailors
on Thursday, sailing off with the vessel in waters increasingly at
risk of piracy, an international monitoring group said.
The International Maritime Bureau, which monitors piracy
worldwide, said pirates boarded the tanker as it idled about
62 nautical miles from Benin`s capital of Cotonou. Pirates
struck as the vessel tried to transfer its cargo to another
ship, the bureau said.
The pirates sailed off with the crew to an unknown
location, the bureau said.
The attack occurred as another vessel in the same area
came under attack from pirates. In that case, however, the
crew was able to lock themselves into a strong room and wait
for the attackers to leave, the bureau said.
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has over the last eight
months escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings,
cargo thefts and large-scale robberies, according to the
Denmark-based security firm Risk Intelligence. Last month,
London-based Lloyd`s Market Association, an umbrella group of
insurers, listed Nigeria, neighbouring Benin and nearby waters
in the same risk category as Somalia, where two decades of war
and anarchy have allowed piracy to flourish.
West African pirates also have been more willing to use
violence, beating crew members and shooting and stabbing those
who get in the way. Analysts believe many of the pirates come
from Nigeria, where corrupt law enforcement allows criminality
A spokesman for the Nigerian navy did not immediately
respond to a request for comment today. Authorities in Benin
could not be immediately reached.