According to Bulgaria’s foreign ministry, the pirates boarded the Tommi Ritscher container ship at the Port of Cotonou in the Gulf of Guinea, but they have now released 11 other members of the crew.
This is the latest piracy incident off Benin. In November the country's authorities launched an investigation after pirates abducted nine people from a Norwegian boat.
While piracy has fallen globally, the Gulf of Guinea is still a high-risk area for abductions and armed robbery with shippers reporting several abductions in the region in recent months.
In addition, the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported 47 attacks in the first three months of 2020.
This constitutes an increase from 38 in the same period last year. Pirates boarded 37 ships in the first quarter of 2020.
The Gulf of Guinea remains the world’s piracy hotspot. Namely, seventeen crew were kidnapped in three incidents in these waters, at distances of between 45 and 75 nautical miles from the coast.
IMB’s latest global piracy report shows zero hijackings in the last two quarters, and no incidents around Somalia. But with no sign of a reduction in attacks worldwide, IMB encourages shipowners to stay vigilant, calling for continued international cooperation.