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West Africa gulf replacing Somalia as piracy hot spot

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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Well-armed pirates are widening their area of operations and using new strategies in a "worrying surge" of attacks, kidnappings and armed robberies in West Africa's oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, an international piracy monitoring agency said Monday.

The London-based International Maritime Bureau published figures for the first six months of the year indicating that while piracy is down in the rest of the world, the Gulf of Guinea has overtaken Somalia as the world's new hot spot.

Piracy cost the region $2 billion last year, with some shipping companies avoiding ports in the danger zone, said Cameroonian professor Joseph Vincent Ntuda Ebode.

Some experts are calling for a coalition of naval forces to patrol the strategic area, similar to the one that gets credit for the decreasing number of attacks off the coast of Somalia.

The bureau's report on Monday said the Gulf of Guinea this year suffered 31 actual and attempted attacks by pirates, including four ships hijacked. Nigeria had 22 reported attacks, up from six in all of 2011, it said. Somalia, in comparison, had four attacks, compared with 125 in 2011.

Only Indonesia reported more attacks than Nigeria, with 48 so far this year.

Not all attacks are reported because of concerns about the safety of hostages and statistics that increase insurance premiums. But attacks on oil and gas tankers generally are reported because the companies need to make insurance claims.



 





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