Two Kidnappings in Three Days in Gulf of Guinea


Published Nov 4, 2019 3:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, four seafarers were kidnapped from the 95,000 dwt tanker Elka Aristotle off the coast of Togo, according to the Togolese Navy. 

"Around 0300, the tanker boat Elka Aristotle was attacked around 10 nautical miles from the port of Lome by armed individuals," said the service in a statement. 

According to Reuters, the Elka Aristotle had at least one guard on board, but the security force's attempts to fend off the attackers were not successful. A guard was shot and wounded in the exchange, and the pirates proceeded to abduct four out of the 24 seafarers on board. The victims include one Greek national, one Georgian and two Philippine nationals. 

The rest of the crew and the vessel herself are safe, operator European Product Tankers Ltd. told Greek media in a statement. As of Monday night, the Elka Aristotle was still anchored off Lome. 

"We cannot comment in detail at the present time, except to say that the safety and security of our people is of paramount importance to us and we are doing everything we can to ensure their prompt and safe release," said European Product Carriers in a statement.

The Greek government - including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Maritime and Island Policy - is informed and is monitoring the situation. 

Second kidnapping in three days

The incident follows shortly after the kidnapping of nine seafarers from the Norwegian-flagged freighter Bonita off the coast of neighboring Benin. 

On Saturday morning, pirates boarded the Bonita at an anchorage about eight nautical miles off the Port of Cotonou. They abducted the master and eight other crewmembers, according to authorities in Benin. 

"The Ugland Emergency Response Team are handling this situation as per contingency plans, and they are in contact with relevant authorities," said operator JJ Ugland. "The families of the crew members have been contacted and will be kept informed."

The Bonita, her remaining crewmembers and her cargo of gypsum docked safely in Cotonou later the same day.