PIRATES KIDNAP SIX CREW MEMBERS OFF BENIN
Pirates attacked a Ghanaian-flagged Panofi Frontier with 30 crew members on board, and kidnapped five South Koreans and a Ghanaian, off Benin, on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.
Seoul’s foreign ministry and the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) made the disclosure on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
The vessel was attacked about 60 nautical miles south of the Beninese capital Cotonou, they both said.
Seoul’s foreign ministry said five of its nationals were seized along with a Ghanaian, and that the vessel had 24 more crew members on board.
“Currently, the identity and the whereabouts of the kidnappers have not been identified,” it said in a statement, adding it was working with the relevant organizations and countries to secure the Koreans’ release.
The IMB, who also confirmed the attack by “armed pirates”, issued a warning to seafarers, advising them to be security cautious.
“All vessels are advised to maintain a vigilant anti-piracy watch and measures including at anchorages,” IMB said.
Noel Choong, head of the IMB’s Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre said it appeared the pirates had headed “into Nigerian waters with the kidnapped crew”, however, the remaining sailors and the vessel were safe, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.
The incident comes about a month after Eons Intelligence, on May 25, reported that eight foreign crew members kidnapped from a Singapore-owned container ship off Benin’s coast were freed.
The Nigerian Navy, who launched the rescue operation, said the eight included nationals from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and the Philippines.
Benin lies at the heart of the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches 5,700 kilometres (3,500 miles) from Senegal to Angola.
Coastal waters in the centre of the vast region have become an epicentre of pirate attacks, lootings and kidnappings for ransom. Many of the pirates come from Nigeria, AFP says.
The perpetrators are “increasingly seeking to target vulnerable vessels in waters beyond the traditional heartland of the Southern Niger Delta,” said Dryad Global, a British maritime intelligence firm.