Maritime security analysts say the area of the attacks is spreading and a concerted, multi-pronged approach, including greater co-operation from Gulf of Guinea littoral states, is needed to defeat this new and dangerous style of piracy and destroy the criminals’ onshore infrastructure
Piracy off West Africa is nothing new. The area, especially in the Gulf of Guinea, has long had a notorious reputation for being the home of pirate gangs that frequently board ships to steal whatever they can — including crews taken ashore and held for ransom.
But a new and more dangerous type of piracy that emerged in late 2010 — when organised gangs began attacking tankers with the sole aim of stealing their high-value cargoes — has maritime security analysts worried.
Last Friday, the Hai Soon 6, a small Kirabati-flag tanker, was hijacked off Ghana. A group of 10 armed pirates boarded the ship just before midnight. After the hijacking, the vessel was observed to be sailing in a south-easterly direction. At the time of TradeWinds going to press this week, the fate of the vessel and its crew remained unknown.
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