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Pirates attack German container ship off West African coast

Fecha de la noticias: 14/02/2020 • Publicada: 14/02/2020 

Maritime piracy has increased off the west coast of Africa, in the Gulf of Guinea, despite preventative measures. The issues lie on land rather than at sea. Is it time for the international community to intervene?

A vessel operated by Hamburg-based Bernhard Schulte Ship management was attacked by two speedboats in the Gulf of Guinea on Friday.

The Maersk Tema was attacked by two speedboats off the Nigerian coast, a spokesman for Peter Doehle Schiffart and Bernhard Schulte said. The crew followed emergency procedures, but the spokesman did not say whether the pirates had boarded the ship.

The Maersk Group in Copenhagen, Denmark, said that despite the name, it was not one of their ships.

Who will help solve Africa"s piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea?

Nine out of 10 maritime incidents of piracy and kidnappings for ransom are reported in West Africa"s?Gulf of Guinea, which stretches 5,700 kilometres (3,500?miles) from Senegal to Angola.

As the number of crew members kidnapped by pirates worldwide decreased, the number reported in the Gulf of Guinea increased from 78 in 2018 to 121 in 2019.

From January to September last year, 82%?of maritime kidnappings in the world occurred in the Gulf of Guinea, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).?

The vast expanse has eclipsed the notorious waters off Somalia in the Horn of Africa?to become the world"s epicentre for pirate attacks, lootings and kidnappings.

Fewer attacks, more kidnappings

"Seafarers go through great dangers so that consumers can buy coffee and cocoa in supermarkets or refuel their cars,"?Cyrus Mody, IMB"s deputy director, told DW.

"The numbers in the Gulf have not increased," Mody?said. " Media has only very recently started picking up on it. Ten years back we had the whole Somali piracy issue and media picked up on that relatively quickly. In the Gulf of Guinea the total number of incidences which actually occurred are underreported by around 50%-60%, piracy has been going on for years."

Pirates mainly target ships with international crews, according to a report on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea by the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD). In December, pirates boarded two ships within a few days, each 100 nautical miles off the coasts of Nigeria and Benin. They kidnapped 19 and 20 crew members respectively.

"Since 2018 there have been a quarter fewer attacks on ships, but more hijackings," said Wolf Kinzel, frigate captain and expert on maritime security in the region at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). "The approach of the pirates has changed: instead of three seamen, they take the whole crew with them. Hostages for money."