Monday, February 04, 2013

West Africa Pirates: French tanker, 17 crew grabbed off Ivory Coast

Reported as Pirates seize French tanker, 17 crew off Ivory Coast
Suspected Nigerian pirates have hijacked a French-owned Luxembourg-flagged tanker along with its 17-member crew off Ivory Coast, Ivorian officials and the International Maritime Bureau said on Monday.

The Gulf of Guinea area is second only to the waters off Somalia for piracy and there has been a spate of violent attacks in vessels in recent days, prompting the bureau to issue a security alert for the region.

The Gascogne was the second vessel to be seized off Ivory Coast in less than three weeks and the first to have been taken so far from shore.

© Victor Cadelina, Jr.

From the ICC IMB Live Piracy Map, a couple of images of the location of this most recent attack (Map1) and the Gulf of Guinea attack this far in 2013 (Map 2):

Map 1

Map 2

An interesting comparison of West African pirates to those operating off East Africa (read Somalia) at West African piracy: different but the same…. which links to :
Reports from East African (Somali) piracy hijackings typically describe hostage situations lasting for long periods of time to negotiate ransom. One rarely hears about attempts to monetize the ship’s cargo. West African pirates, however, often target oil tankers—both to seek ransom and to discharge the liquid cargo for black-market sale. While successful capture may take days instead of months, pirates reportedly engage in more gratuitous violence while forcing crews to cooperate in vessel movement and product discharge against their will.

While government structures are stronger in West Africa compared to East Africa, alleged government and commercial corruption provide intelligence to pirates while inadequate counter-piracy laws complicate prosecution. Insufficient regional cooperation among Nigeria, Togo and Benin thwart interdiction of pirates in multi-jurisdictional waters. Since hijackings take place both within national territorial waters and beyond, the legal distinction between armed robbery and piracy complicates prosecution, too. West African piracy more resembles transnational organized crime with more sophisticated vessels and weapons compared to that of East Africa.

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