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article imagePirates attack tanker off West Africa coast, 23 sailors kidnapped

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 15, 2011 in Crime
Cotonou - Armed pirates raided an idling tanker on Wednesday as it was attempting to transfer its crude oil cargo, about 62 nautical miles from the Benin capital of Cotonou, and hijacked 23 sailors in waters seeing a marked increase in piracy.
A Cyprus-flagged tanker, trying to transfer its cargo to a Norwegian-registered ship off the West African coast of Benin was attacked and hijacked by pirates, and along with the sailors, set sail for an unknown location, said Cyrus Mody, manager at the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a worldwide piracy watchdog group, Forbes reports.
Pirates have increased their activities in the Gulf of Guinea, bordering Benin and oil-rich Nigeria. The IIMB reported in July that piracy attacks on the world’s oceans totaled 266 during the first six months of 2011, up from 196 attacks during the same period a year earlier.
During the last eight months, the Gulf of Guinea has seen attacks increase in their intensity, from low-level robberies to large-scale hijackings and cargo thefts. In August, the Joint War Committee of Lloyd’s Market Association, a London-based group of insurers, added Benin, Nigeria, and parts of the Gulf of Guinea onto its Hull War, Strikes, Terrorism and Related Perils Listed Areas, putting the region in the same category as Somalia, long-known for its piracy-flourishing waters.
Worldwide attacks as of September 8 were reported at 326, with worldwide hijackings of 33, according to the IMB. The Cotonou region of Benin has seen an increase of attacks, and an IMB statement notes armed pirated are violent, and in some instances fire at ships. Of particular interest are tankers, which after being attacked and hijacked, are force to sail to unknown locations where the ships’ cargo is then stolen.
IMB said Nigeria and Benin had a reported 18 pirate attacks during the first half of 2011. However, the number of attacks is underreported, due to some ships carrying illegal cargo and others fearing a report will lead to an increase in insurance rates, according to Time.
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