Armed pirates attacked and boarded a refrigerated cargo ship underway off the Niger Delta and kidnapped four crewmembers on Monday, according to a U.K.-based maritime intelligence company, Dryad Maritime.
There are currently no details relating to the identity of the attacked vessel or the location of the kidnapped crewmembers.
The pirates reportedly stole the ship’s cash and destroyed equipment before escaping.
Dryad said local authorities had been notified of the incident.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that two Lithuanian and two Ukrainian seamen were kidnapped out of 19 crewmembers on board the unidentified ship at the time of the accident.
This is the first incident reported at sea off the Niger Delta in five months.
The attack took place 100 nautical miles further west than the spate of kidnappings, which took place earlier this year.
The attack is coming at a time when the Nigerian Navy is conducting increased patrols of the approaches to the Bonny River, and these patrols may have forced the criminal gang to look into operating farther away in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Gulf of Guinea has a recent history of maritime attacks with six reported cases of attacks on vessels, where 13 crewmembers were abducted for the purpose of ransom, in 2014 alone.
This incident marks a return to attacks for West Africa, an area that has experienced low levels of maritime crime in the last three months, according to Dryad.
The recent reduction in instances of maritime crime in the region was likely related to the increase in Nigerian Naval activities, but this incident is congruent with Dryad’s analysis that the Nigerian Navy’s efforts alone would not be able to effectively police the whole of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.
By Pita Ochai