Pirates boarded a Portuguese-flagged containership
According to maritime security consultancy Dryad Global, pirates are holding a Portuguese-flagged container ship anchored off the coast of Benin on Sunday and is suspected to have eight crew hostages.
An unspecified number of pirates in a speed boat approached the 255-meter Tommi Ritscher at the anchorage of Cotonou and some of them boarded the vessel, but the speedboat later fled at the arrival of the Zou naval patrol vessel, leaving an unknown number of pirates on board the 4,785-TEU ship.
Eleven crew members are thought to be trapped in the citadel while eight more are being kept on board by the pirates elsewhere, Dryad says. It's said that the crew members are Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Filipino.
Assistance was sought from Nigeria which had dispatched a Nigerian patrol boat NNS Ose with a Nigerian Naval Special Boat Service detachment.
According to ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the Gulf of Guinea remains the world's highest piracy hotspot, and threats and piracy attacks in and off Benin anchorage have increased. In the first quarter of this year, the IMB's 24-hour Piracy Reporting Center (PRC) reported 21 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, with three ship attacks including two cases of crew kidnappings off Benin.
Maritime Business World