Pirates Kidnap Two Americans Off the Coast of Nigeria

While piracy is down worldwide, Nigeria is overtaking Somalia as the hotspot for pirates.

French soldiers monitor the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, looking on a Singaporean-flagged, chemical/oil tanker on January 11, 2009.
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
Oct. 24, 2013, 7:39 a.m.

Pir­ates off the coast of Ni­ger­ia kid­napped two Amer­ic­ans early Wed­nes­day, adding to an in­creas­ing trend seen in that re­gion.

A re­port from Re­u­ters shows that pir­ates at­tacked a U.S.-flagged oil ves­sel, kid­nap­ping the cap­tain and chief en­gin­eer, both of whom are U.S. cit­izens.

The FBI and the State De­part­ment are lead­ing the Amer­ic­an re­sponse to the pir­ate at­tack. Re­u­ters also re­ports that there is a small U.S. Mar­ine unit in the re­gion that might be called to re­spond.

While pir­acy on the world’s seas is at its low­est levels in the last sev­en years, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tion­al Cham­ber of Com­merce’s In­ter­na­tion­al Mari­time Bur­eau, Ni­ger­ia con­tin­ues to be the main source of pir­acy in the Gulf of Guinea. In the first nine months of 2013, there were 29 in­cid­ents of pir­acy off the Ni­geri­an coast.

Re­u­ters ex­plains why this re­gion is such a hot spot for re­cent pir­ate at­tacks:

Un­like the dan­ger­ous wa­ters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa on the east coast of Africa, through which ships now speed with armed guards on board, many ves­sels have to an­chor to do busi­ness off West Afric­an coun­tries, with little pro­tec­tion.

Over­all, pir­acy is de­creas­ing world­wide. Here are some of the num­bers from the In­ter­na­tion­al Mari­time Bur­eau, as of Oct. 17, ac­count­ing for the first nine months of 2013:

  • There have been 188 pir­acy in­cid­ents. By com­par­is­on, there were 233 in­cid­ents in the first nine months of 2012.
  • The num­ber of people taken host­age has dropped by 192 since last year, sit­ting at 266 people.
  • Thirty-four people were kid­napped.
  • Pir­ates hi­jacked 10 ves­sels, fired at 17 ves­sels, and boarded 140 ves­sels.
  • One sea­farer was killed. Ad­di­tion­ally, 20 people were in­jured and one per­son is still miss­ing. 
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