Pirates Kill Captain, Kidnap 2 Other Captains and 2 Chief Officers, In Libreville Harbor, Gabon

January 12 UPDATE: All four kidnapped crew were reportedly rescued safely. (Xinhua)

December 22: According to an official Gabonese government statement, pirates attacked four vessels in Libreville’s harbour overnight, killing one captain and kidnapping two Chinese Captains and two Chinese chief officers. The vessels consisted of two Chinese-flagged fishing boats belonging to Sigapeche, one Panama-flagged cargo vessel, and a small, harbor landing craft belonging to Satram). The captain who was killed was reportedly working for the latter, while those kidnapped were taken from the fishing vessel/s (the captain and chief officer from both vessels). There is also unconfirmed reporting that a fifth vessel (type unspecified) may have been attacked overnight.

 It is reported – although unconfirmed – that the attacks were perpetrated at approximately 03:00 LT (02:00 UTC) by 6-7 persons on board a small craft, and that the vessels were at Owendo Anchorage.

The West African country’s defence and security forces were deployed “to secure the area and track down the perpetrators with the cooperation of Interpol and sub-regional bodies,” a government spokesman stated.

Although piracy is relatively frequent in the region, it is unusual within the harbour.

The Gulf of Guinea, which stretches some 5,700 kilometres (3,500 miles) from Senegal to Angola, has become the new world epicentre of pirate attacks, lootings and kidnappings for ransom.  From January to September, 82 percent of maritime kidnappings in the world occurred in the Gulf of Guinea, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Early last month two Filipinos, a Greek and a Georgian, crew members on an oil tanker, were abducted off of the Togolese capital Lome and nine Filipino seamen were snatched off of Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin. 

Sources: AFP via MSN, VOA News, GlobalSecur, and MDAT-GoG

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