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Wave of piracy in West African waters

2 March 2018

Following recent incidents of armed attacks on shipping off West Africa, further reports suggest a new wave of piracy in the area.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) 24-hour worldwide Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) has received reports of a range of attacks indicating the current dangers.

On 26 February, five armed men boarded a tanker anchored in Cotonou, Benin and started firing, injuring one of the Benin navy guards on board. As the crew retreated into the citadel, the armed men fired on and injured another navy guard. They then took the duty watch hostage, kidnapped the master and one engineer, stole crew property and escaped in the tanker's rescue boat. The armed men released the captives once they reached shore.

In a further incident, a speedboat with eight armed pirates chased a container vessel around 50 nautical miles off Bonny Island, Nigeria on 24 February. The alarm was raised and the Nigerian navy contacted. The master commenced evasive manoeuvres and was able to prevent the pirates from boarding. After the pirates moved away, the Nigerian navy provided an escort for the vessel. In another incident in the area on the same day, around 10 pirates armed with automatic weapons in a speedboat chased and fired on a vessel, but moved away after the onboard armed guards returned fire. The vessel sustained minor gunshot damage.

In two other incidents around 40-45 nautical miles off Brass, Nigeria, six to seven armed pirates chased and fired on a tanker on 18 February but were unable to board after the vessel took evasive manoeuvres, and skiffs with about six armed pirates abandoned an attack on a bulk carrier on 24 January after the ship increased speed, with its armed guards on standby.   
All attacks and suspicious sightings should be reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, tel: +603 2031 0014 (24 hours), email:

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