On Saturday, March 9, armed pirates reportedly attacked an offshore supply vessel (OSV) roughly 55 km (34 mi) off of Brass (Bayelsa state), killing one Nigerian Navy guard tasked with escorting the vessel. The pirates reportedly approached the OSV in speed boats armed with machine guns and kidnapped five crewmembers. The navy guard was reportedly killed in an exchange of gunfire during the attack. Further pirate attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Guinea are possible in the coming days and weeks.
This latest attack comes several days after a Malta-registered tanker was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, roughly 37 km (23 mi) off the port of Lome (Togo) on March 3. Three crewmembers were taken hostage. Two other separate attacks were reported on January 24-25 off Brass this year. In the past, pirates have attacked vessels outside of territorial waters, kidnapped crewmembers, and taken them to Nigeria where they are held for ransom.
The Gulf of Guinea remains vulnerable to piracy. According to the International Maritime Bureau, reports of attacks in waters between Côte d'Ivoire and DRC more than doubled in 2018, with the region seeing a significant spike in violence in the last quarter of 2018. Niger Delta pirates were identified as being primarily responsible for most of these attacks.
Individuals in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly near Brass, should monitor the situation, remain vigilant, and adhere to instructions by local authorities.
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