With no fewer than 12 incidents of piracy attacks already recorded off Nigerian coast this year, armed pirates have again attacked an oil products tanker off the coast of the country and abducted an unknown number of crew, security sources said on Tuesday.
Increasing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region, which includes Nigeria, is jacking up costs for shipping firms operating here.
The Nigerian-flagged MT Matrix was boarded by gunmen in the early hours of Saturday around 40 nautical miles off the coast of Bayelsa State, two security sources were quoted by Reuters as saying.
There were 12 Pakistani and five Nigerian crew aboard the vessel when it was attacked, one of the sources said.
In what may be regarded as the first reported piratical attacks in Nigeria in the second quarter of the year, last month pirates kidnapped five crew members from a cargo ship off Nigerian coast and later released them.
The Antigua and Barbuda-flagged MV City of Xiamen container ship was attacked late on April 25 off the coast of Bayelsa State, a security source said.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said 14 heavily armed pirates attacked the container ship, breached its citadel – a strong room designed to protect the crew from attack. The pirates took five crew members captive before escaping with cash taken from the ship and the crew.
The pirates were said to have chased and fired upon another container ship on April 24 in a speed boat off Nigeria, but the vessel increased speed and escaped.
According to the IMB’s recent report on Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, Nigeria and Indonesia accounted for 50 percent of piratical attacks in the first quarter of this year, even as piracy incidents worldwide dropped sharply in the period, BusinessDay reported on April 17.