On Tuesday, October 30, suspected pirates kidnapped 16 sailors in three separate attacks in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Pointe Noire. The pirates also reportedly hijacked an oil and chemical tanker in one of the attacks. As of Wednesday, October 31, the pirates have not publicly announced a ransom demand, nor have authorities announced a plan to rescue the sailors. Additional pirate attacks are possible in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Pointe Noire, in the near term. Clashes between pirates and authorities cannot be ruled out.
These abductions follow the kidnappings of 11 crew members further north in the Gulf of Guinea on October 27, and the October 26 release of 12 crew members of a Swiss ship abducted in Nigerian waters on September 22. There is a high risk of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. According to the US Maritime Administration (MARAD), nearly 100 incidents of piracy and armed robbery, including 29 abductions, were reported in the area in 2017.
Maritime travelers in the region are advised to remain vigilant for the approach of suspicious ships while aboard vessels, monitor developments to the regional security environment, and report all incidents to the nearest authorities. Pirates and other criminals are often armed; do not resist if confronted.
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