Nigeria: Pirates kidnap 4 crew members on Italian vessel


Suspected Somali pirates sit with their faces covered during a media interaction on board an Indian Coast guard ship off the coast of Mumbai on Feb. 10, 2011.


Punit Paranjpe

Pirates have kidnapped four sailors after attacking their ship off Nigeria's coast, the International Maritime Bureau reported yesterday.

There were no injuries to other crew members aboard the Italian-registered vessel, and the pirates released the ship, which continued to a safe port. Three of the hostages are Italian.

According to a spokesman for Nigeria's navy, "Five vessels have been deployed for patrol duties off Brass Area. The Nigerian Navy in collaboration with other agencies have intensified search and rescue efforts of the four kidnapped crew members of MV Asso Ventuno and apprehension of the pirates."

Piracy and kidnapping in Nigeria's oil-producing Delta is second only to the waters off Somalia. Earlier this month, four South Koreans and two Nigerians were snatched off Nigeria's coast. They released the captives after ransom is paid.

The Agence France Presse reported that along with kidnapping, pirates regularly attack tankers off the West African coast to steal fuel cargo for sale on the region's lucrative black market.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer and the most populous country in Africa.