15 January 2014, News Wires – The number of Nigerian piracy attacks increased last year to their highest level since 2008 with incidents off West Africa now accounting for almost one fifth of the worldwide total.
Sea criminals linked with Nigeria proved “particularly violent” in 2013 and have moved their operations further offshore and to neighbouring countries, the report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) released on Wednesday indicated.
In total there were 264 attacks on ships last year, a 40% drop from 2011 when Somalia piracy was at its peak and 237 attacks occurred in that region alone.
Some 300 people were taken hostage last year with 12 ships hijacked, 202 boarded and 22 fired upon, while there were a further 28 attempted hijackings.
West Africa accounted for 19% of all attacks in 2013, with Nigerian pirates said to be responsible for 31 out of 51 attacks in the region, holding 49 people hostage and kidnapping 36.
“Nigerian pirates ventured far into waters off Gabon, Ivory Coast and Togo, where they were linked with at least five of the region’s seven reported vessel hijackings,” the IMB said.
The number of pirate attacks worldwide was, however, down to a six-year low, thanks to a significant fall in incidents off Somalia.