24 seafarers kidnapped in Nigeria as pirate attacks drop to 21-year low in H1

The number of piracy incidents worldwide reported to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in the first half of the year was 98 compared to 134 in the same period last year. It was also the lowest number of attacks reported in the first six months of the year since 1995.

“This drop in world piracy is encouraging news. Two main factors are recent improvements around Indonesia, and the continued deterrence of Somali pirates off East Africa,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.

The number of incidents in Indonesia fell to 24 in the first half of the year, compared to 54 in the first six months of 2015. Mukundan urged continued vigilance off Somalia where a combination of international naval patrols and private security deployed on merchant ships effectively clamped down on a kidnap for ransom problem that reached endemic proportions just a few years ago.

However, there are still serious concerns about the rise in kidnap for ransom cases off West Africa, where the lower oil price has seen pirates switch their attention from stealing oil cargoes to take the crew for ransom.

Overall 44 crew were kidnapped in the first half of 2016, with Nigeria the blackspot with 24 seafarers kidnapped, compared to 10 in the same period in 2015.

“In the Gulf of Guinea, rather than oil tankers being hijacked for their cargo, there is an increasing number of incidents of crew being kidnapped for ransom,” commented Mukundan.

IMB said Nigerian piracy attacks are also noted for their violence accounting for eight of nine attacks worldwide where vessels were fired upon.

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