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Nigerian Pirates Release Kidnapped S. Korean Fishermen

Panofi Frontier (file image courtesy Silla Co., Ltd)
Panofi Frontier (file image courtesy Silla Co., Ltd)

By The Maritime Executive 07-27-2020 04:06:44

Five South Korean fishermen who were kidnapped from the purse seiner Panofi Frontier in the Gulf of Guinea have been released, according to South Korea's ministry of foreign affairs. 

The abductees were recovered from their captors on Friday at a location in Nigeria. They are reportedly healthy and are in the care of the Korean embassy. When they are ready, they have been provided with the option to travel to Ghana, where their vessel is homeported. the ministry said. One Ghanaian abductee from Panofi Frontier was also released, and he has been transferred to Ghanaian authorities. 

The Ghana-flagged Panofi Frontier was attacked and boarded on June 25 at a position about 60 nm to the south of Cotonou, Benin. According to the ICC IMB, the pirates departed in the direction of Nigerian territorial seas - a common pattern for abductions in the Gulf of Guinea. In coordination with the shipowner and with regional governments, South Korea's foreign ministry launched an effort to secure their safe return.

24 other crewmembers were left on board and were not harmed, IMB reported. 

According to maritime security consultancy Dryad Global, the Panofi Frontier boarding was the seventh reported incident off Cotonou so far this year. This represents an increase in activity relative to last year, and Dryad assesses that the perpetrators of the most serious incidents likely come from Nigeria. 

The Gulf of Guinea is easily the most active region in the world for serious maritime piracy, especially kidnapping. According to the IMB, the number of seafarers reported kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea increased by more than 50 percent in 2019, reaching a total of 121 victims. The count represented 90 percent of maritime kidnappings reported worldwide during the year.