On Tuesday, a group of pirates attacked a Dutch cargo ship in the Nigerian port of Harcourt and captured the captain and the chief mechanic, who are Russian citizens. Since then, all attempts to establish communication with the pirates or the captive sailors have failed.
The Dutch ship, called “Breeze Clipper”, was anchored in the port when a motorboat with 8 armed men suddenly appeared.
Russia’s Ambassador to Nigeria Alexander Polyakov says:
“The crew of the ill-fated ship consisted of 14 people – Russians, Ukrainians and Filipinos. The pirates opened fire, boarded the ship, robbed the crew, captured the captain, whose last name is Pikus and the chief mechanic, whose last name is Melnikov (I don’t know their first names), and went off with them. The cook, a Filipino, was wounded, but his life is out of danger. The rest were not injured.”
“The Russian embassy is already actively cooperating with the Nigerian authorities to try to rescue the sailors. We are constantly keeping in touch with the company which owns the ship. An emergency committee has been formed. We are trying our best, but, unfortunately, still in vain.”
In terms of the danger of piracy, Nigeria is on the second place in the world after Somalia. In 2011 alone, 58 pirates’ attacks on ships took place off Nigeria’s coasts.
On Monday, the UN Security Council backed the proposal of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to hold a regional summit on combatting piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Pirates from Nigeria usually act in small groups. Nigeria’s government, in fact, is hardly capable of seriously resisting them.
Sergey Bondarenko from the Institute of Africa says:
“Nigeria’s government has too many problems besides the pirates to effectively resist them. It has to resist Islamist groups which are numerous and active in the country. The government has to fulfill the demands of workers, who often go on strike in Nigeria. Besides, it is usually very difficult to trace the pirates. The situation in Nigeria is very similar to that of Somalia, another country where the problem of piracy is very acute. The only difference probably is that Somalia, in fact, has split into several parts, while Nigeria, for all its problems, still remains one state.”
The only fact which still inspires some hope is that Nigerian pirates, unlike their Somali “colleagues”, never kill their captives – or, at least, they haven’t killed them so far. As a rule, Nigerian pirates let their hostages go after they have received the ransom. Sometimes, their captives manage to escape.
Alexander Polyakov says that the Russian embassy in Nigeria already has some successful experience of rescuing Russian citizens captured by pirates.
However, at present, the only thing left is to wait until the pirates establish a radio or some other contact themselves. Speaking about further prospects, it is not ruled out that armed ships may be sent to the Gulf of Guinea to protect cargo ships which pass the gulf, like it is already dome in the waters of Somalia.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via english.ruvr.ru. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com