10 Kidnapped from Freighter Off Niger River Delta
On Thursday, a freighter was boarded by pirates near the Pennington FPSO, just off the coast of the Niger River Delta. 10 crewmembers were kidnapped.
According to Praesidium International, the St. Kitts-flagged coastal freighter Milan was under way on a coastwise journey from Koko to Douala, Cameroon at the time of the incident. At about 2000 hours, the vessel slowed, then drifted until 0530 hours the following morning. 10 crewmembers have been confirmed kidnapped.
Praesidium noted recent unrest on shore in the Niger Delta, potentially attributable to the militant group known as the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers. In addition, enforcement pressure on the high seas may be motivating pirate groups to retreat to more lightly-policed Nigerian inshore waters.
"The multiple interventions by the Italian Navy frigate Martinengo deep offshore could possibly push the [pirate action groups] to draw their attention to softer targets located closer to the West African shoreline where international navies have less operational capabilities due to the legal framework," said Praesidium.
According to Dryad Global, it is the sixth boarding incident within Nigeria's own territorial seas so far this year. A far larger number of boardings and kidnappings have occurred farther out in the Gulf of Guinea over the course of 2020, including many off the coasts of neighboring states.