Pirates strike two European vessels off West African shores

It was a weekend of unrest on the West African coastline as pirates seized two European shipping vessels in Benin and Togo.

According to a Reuters report, the Norwegian-flagged MV Bonita, and Greek oil tanker Elka Aristotle were targeted by pirates in unrelated cases, confirming the Gulf of Guinea as an international hotspot for piracy.

The MV Bonita was hit the hardest, with nine crew members abducted after pirates boarded the vessel off the coast of Benin early on Saturday morning. The crew on board were all Filipino, and according to a statement from Norwegian shipping firm, JJ Ugland, the line is doing all it can to ensure the safe return of the crew. 

“We are continuously working on the situation and doing our utmost to bring the nine crew members to safety,” a statement read.

Just over 150 kilometres west of the Port of Cotonou in Benin, there was a shootout between security guards on the Elka Aristotle and pirates early on Monday morning. One security guard was injured while four crew members are still missing after the attack.

Although piracy has decreased worldwide, the Gulf of Guinea remains a high-risk area for abductions and armed robbery, according to the International Maritime Bureau, with shippers reporting several abductions in the region in recent months.

Investigations are ongoing. – Bjorn Vorster

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