Even before the two kidnapping incidents happened in Benin and Togo where at least 11 Filipino seafarers were taken as hostages by pirates, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) had already declared that the seas around West Africa remain the world’s most dangerous for piracy.
According to the IMB, out of 75 total number of seafarers taken hostage onboard or abducted for ransom worldwide for this year alone, some 62 of them were captured in the Gulf of Guinea – off the waters of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin, and Cameroon.
In a report first published in June 2019, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 78 piracy incidents and armed robbery against ships in the first half of this year, compared with 107 incidents for the same period of 2018.
At least 73% of all piracy attacks worldwide or 57 vessels were boarded successfully.
“Armed pirates in these high-risk waters kidnapped 27 crewmembers in the first half of 2019, and 25 in the same period in 2018. Two chemical tankers were hijacked, as well as a tug that was then used in another attack. Of the nine vessels fired upon worldwide, eight were off the coast of Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer. These attacks took place on average 65 nautical miles off the coast – meaning they are classified as acts of piracy,” the IMB said in its report.
On Monday morning, pirates boarded the Greek oil tanker Elka Aristotle off the coast of Togo and took as hostages some of the ship’s crewmembers – two Filipino, a Greek, and a Georgian national.
Reports from Athens said the Greek foreign ministry is already intervening in the incident while its shipping ministry said it was “closely monitoring the issue.”
On Saturday, a similar attack happened in the waters of Benin when pirates boarded the Norwegian-flagged M/V Bonita and abducted nine of its Filipino crew members.