Pirates kidnap 5 sailors off Nigeria coast


A picture taken on December 29, 2008 shows the cargo ship Arctic Sea in Kotka, Finland. The ship was allegedly seized by pirates, six of whom expect a verdict in their trial today.


Pekka Laakso

Five sailors have been kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta.

The International Maritime Bureau said the five sailors were kidnapped on Thursday around 45 nautical miles off the coast of Brass.

Pirates on a speedboat and a supply vessel approached the sailors, attacking their container ship. They kidnapped the five men and left the rest of the crew unharmed.

The Russian Embassy in Nigeria confirmed that one of the sailors was a Russian citizen. The others are said to be from Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

More from GlobalPost: Nigeria piracy: kidnappers demand $1.2 million ransom for 6 foreigners

The waters off the coasts of Benin, Nigeria and Togo, which make up the Gulf of Guinea, are prone to pirate kidnappings, with gunmen frequently going after ships thought to have crude from the Niger Delta onboard.

The number of attacks in the Gulf rose from 39 in 2010 to 53 in 2011. Last year the region saw 62 attacks. Foreign sailors are typically kidnapped during the raids and are released following a ransom payment.

Nigeria is pushing for more aggressive action worldwide to fight piracy in the area and the country wants to increase multi-lateral naval patrols.

Some have suggested foreign vessels should be able to hire private and armed security to escort them into the waters, but Nigeria is unlikely to allow the proposal to move forward.