Piracy in West Africa: Nigerian Navy Gun Down 12 Pirates at the Oil-Rich Niger Delta / Africa News

The Nigerian Navy authorities have said that its forces have killed 12 suspected pirates and rescued a hijacked oil vessel in the country’s oil-rich producing Niger Delta region.

West-Africa-PiracyThe Nigerian Navy authorities have said that its forces have killed 12 suspected pirates and rescued a hijacked oil vessel in the country’s oil-rich producing Niger Delta region.

The navy said in a statement that naval gunboats were deployed to free the St Kitts and Nevis-flagged MT Norte oil vessel, after the navy received information that the vessel had been seized by 16 pirates off the Nigerian waters. The MT Norte vessel was carrying some 17 000 tons of petrol.

The navy and the pirates engaged in a few minutes of gun battle when they attempted to escape in a speedboat after sensing danger of the navy gun power, but they were caught by the bullets from the navy forces resulting in 12 of them being killed and four of them surrendering to avoid being killed.

“Efforts to get the hijackers to stop and surrender proved abortive as they engaged NNS Badagry in a gun battle, the gun battle between NNS Badagry and the pirates lasted for about 30 minutes after which they were over-powered, 12 were killed and four of them surrendered by raising up their hands,” a statement from the Navy stated.

The navy added that some arms and ammunitions belonging to the pirates being recovered and being sent to the navy headquarters.

Analysts say crude oil theft has also been a major problem in Nigeria, with thieves tapping pipelines and siphoning off oil before loading it aboard waiting vessels.

24 crew members believed to be Indian nationals of a Maltese-flagged Cotton oil tanker vessel were freed by pirates on July 22, after the oil tanker was hijacked off the coast of Gabon. A suspected amount of ransom was believed to have been paid to the pirates.

High Seas robbers also known as pirates Hijack oil tankers with the aim of stealing fuel from the vessel has been on the rise off the coast of Nigeria which is Africa’s largest oil producer.

In East Africa, many ships can move fast at high speed with armed guards on board to protect crew members but in West Africa, many vessels have to anchor off the West African coastal nations, with little protection, making them a soft target for pirates.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) watchdog committee warned in July that all vessels especially those routing through the West African coast (Gulf of Guinea) to be vigilant as they are potentially risk of being attacked by pirates in that particular zone of the waters.

The Gulf of Guinea region include waters off Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana and stretches as far as to the Ivory Coast which is a significant source of cocoa, oil and metals for world markets and pirates use the area for their activities.

Piracy in the West African Coast is prevalent but little is being done by the International Navy and local navies in the area to stop the practice.

But this swift response by the Nigerian Navy will be raising some level of hopes about the security of vessels passing through the area.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News

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