The Swiss-registered cargo ship was attacked 45 nautical miles southwest of Bonny Island, near the southern city of Port Harcourt, as it travelled from Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, on Saturday. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) confirmed it had commenced search and rescue operations for the abducted crew from the MV Glarus. Its owners, Massoel Shipping, has said the pirates used long ladders and cut razor wire to get onto the vessel and take over the bridge. Twelve of the 19-strong crew were seized.
Kidnapping for ransom is a common thing across Nigeria, the Gulf of Guinea has become the world’s piracy hotspot. According to the statistics, kidnapping business is popular in the oil-rich south where prominent individuals, members of their family and expatriates have regularly been seized. The Geneva-based company Massoel Shipping said it would not divulge the identities or the nationalities of the hostages for safety reasons but added it is in touch with their families.
NIMASA director-general Dakuku Peterside said the agency was working “to ensure that they are found and released unconditionally”. The search and rescuewasbeing conducted with the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies, he told a news conference in Lagos.
“The issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is a challenge we acknowledge and we are determined to tackle it head-on,”
he said, vowing “zero-tolerance” of the kidnapping and piracy problem.
The International Maritime Bureau said in late July that there were six kidnappings of crews around the world in the first half of 2018. All of them were in the Gulf of Guinea. During the first half of 2018, the crews of six ships were kidnapped by pirates, who are usually well-armed. Sometimes ships are held long enough for the cargo to be looted.