(Reuters) – Armed pirates robbed an petroleum products tanker near Ivory Coast’s port of Abidjan, a maritime agency and a private security advisor said on Wednesday, in an indication of the increasing mobility of Nigeria-based gangs.
The raid on the tanker came just a day after two failed pirate attacks that occurred just hours apart in waters off Nigeria’s southeastern coast, according to the same sources.
Pirate attacks in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, a significant source of oil, cocoa and metals for world markets, have almost doubled from last year, jacking up insurance costs for shipping companies.
The vast majority of the region’s maritime robberies and hijackings are believed to be carried out by criminal gangs based in Nigeria, and the security advisor said this was likely the case with the three incidents last week.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a piracy watchdog, the attack occurred at 9.15 p.m. (2115 GMT) on Aug. 27 around 45 nautical miles southeast of Abidjan, one of West Africa’s busiest commercial ports.
“Twelve armed pirates with guns boarded a drifting product tanker. They took hostage all crew members, stole ship’s cash, crew cash and personal effects and escaped,” the IMB report stated.
The attackers destroyed the vessel’s navigation equipment before leaving the ship, but no crew were injured and the tanker was not damaged.
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Maritime Security News Note:
An attack on a tanker 46nm off the coast is more than just a simple robbery, as anyone in the region knows. Clearly, this many pirates were looking for a tanker to hijack but, on this occasion, chose to only rob it. Why? Perhaps the cargo wasn’t the right one; we’ve seen incidents in S.E. Asia where pirates have boarded a tanker only to discover it was carrying asphalt rather than oil. It may well be the same story here. Hopefully, we’ll find out in due course.