Six crew members of a German-owned container ship, The Demeter, including the captain, have been kidnapped off the coast of southern Nigeria, maritime security analysts said.

The Sea Guardian consultancy said the Demeter “was attacked by pirates” at about 7:00am, on Saturday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“Pirates boarded the ship, kidnapped six crew, including (the) master, chief officer, second officer, second engineer, bosun and cook,” it said on its website: on Monday and added that reports suggested the attack was carried out by eight pirates in a black speedboat.

The AFP, in a report, said the Liberia-flagged vessel, owned by German shipping firm, the Peter Doehle Group, was travelling from Malabo,  capital of Equatorial Guinea, to Monrovia, capital of Liberia when it was attacked.

The MTI Network, a crisis communications firm that deals with incidents in the shipping industry, said the attack happened as the ship entered the port of Onne and added that “all of the 12 remaining seafarers of the Demeter are safe and unhurt and the vessel has proceeded to safe waters.”

The Peter Doehle group said it would not disclose the nationalities of the crew members taken “for security reasons.”

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which has recorded 121 piracy incidents in international waters this year, including shootings, attempted kidnappings and hijackings of ships in a report published last week, described the Gulf of Guinea remainsa “hot spot for attacks,” despite a fall in the number of incidents elsewhere in the world.

Head of the IMB Pottengal Mukundan, who said “the waters off Nigeria remain particularly risky,” noted there had been increase in reported hijackings and kidnappings, although much more had not been reported.

The IMB said “39 of the 49 crew members kidnapped globally occurred off Nigerian waters in seven separate incidents.

“Other crew kidnappings in 2017 have been reported 60 nautical miles (69 miles, 111 kilometres) off the coast of Nigeria,” it added.


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