Authorities in Benin are investigating the latest piracy case in the Gulf of Guinea, after nine crew members of Norwegian Ship MV Bonita were kidnapped on Saturday.
The Norwegian shipping firm J.J. Ugland said the ship, which carried a cargo of gypsum, a mineral commonly used as fertiliser, was boarded by pirates while at anchor off the coast of Benin.
“The Ugland Emergency Response Team are handling this situation as per contingency plans, and they are in contact with relevant authorities. … The families of the crew members have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.
Citing safety reasons, Ugland did not reveal the crew’s nationalities or how many had avoided capture.
While piracy has decreased worldwide, West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea is a high-risk area for abductions and armed robbery, the International Maritime Bureau, a unit of the International Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement last month.
Shippers have reported several abductions in the region in recent months, including eight crew members taken from a German-owned vessel off Cameroon in August, and 10 Turkish sailors off the coast of Nigeria in July.
The disruptions to the essential international shipping route for the continent, leading to the two main oil-producing countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria and Angola, has cost the world economy billions of dollars.