The number of sailors kidnapped off West Africa surged by more than 50 percent last year, a maritime watchdog said on Tuesday, urging greater international cooperation to reduce piracy.
The abductions took place in the Gulf of Guinea, waters stretching thousands of kilometres (miles) from Angola in the south to Senegal in the north, which are considered among the world’s most dangerous for attacks.
The number of crew snatched there jumped from 78 in 2018 to 121 last year – amounting to more than 90 percent of kidnappings reported at sea worldwide, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in its annual piracy report.
“This region has recorded an unprecedented rise in crew kidnaps,” said Michael Howlett, director of the Kuala Lumpur-based IMB.
He called for “increased information exchange and coordination between vessels, reporting and response agencies in the Gulf of Guinea”.
Overall, however, reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide fell in 2019 to 162 from 201 a year earlier, the watchdog said.