By RFIPosted on 01-01-2020Modified on 01-01-2020 at 02:08

Off Cameroon, Tuesday, December 31, a Greek oil tanker was attacked in the early hours by armed men. Eight of the 28 crew members were abducted and among them, five Greek nationals, including the captain of the ship. Two Filipinos and one Ukrainian were also kidnapped.

With our correspondent in Athens, Joël Bronner

On this last day of the calendar year, Yannis Plakiotakis, the Greek Minister for the Navy, assured on Facebook that his thoughts were with the illegally detained sailors and their families. He also said that the Greek state was doing everything necessary to ensure that these sailors were released and could return to their homes.

During the attack, the ship named Happy Lady was located off Limbe, one of the main ports of Cameroon. During the assault, a Greek petroleum engineer was also shot and injured, but his condition was not considered to be of concern to the doctors.

Another Greek tanker, Elka Aristotle , had a similar fate in November. The ship had been attacked while it was stationing, off Lomé, the Togolese capital. Four sailors were then kidnapped. Three of them were finally released in mid-December, but the fourth died during his captivity.

■ Piracy acts more and more frequent

These scenes of piracy have become recurrent all along the Gulf of Guinea which extends from the south of Senegal to Angola. According to the International Maritime Bureau (BMI), this upsurge started in 2017. It concerns a dozen countries.

In December alone, three incidents were reported. On December 3, 19 sailors were abducted off the coast of Nigeria, 20 sailors were taken hostage on December 15 off the coast of Benin. Finally, four ships were attacked on December 21 off Libreville in Gabon.

With each time the same scenario: the crews are brought to Nigeria by very organized groups which hold them until the payment of a ransom.

The Gulf of Guinea. © Latifa Mouaoued / RFI

The Gulf of Guinea is thus even more affected than the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, long considered the most dangerous maritime area

According to the International Maritime Bureau (BMI) in 2019, almost 8 out of 10 crew abductions took place in the oil zone of the Gulf of Guinea.

Also according to the International Maritime Bureau, this piracy greatly disrupts the transportation of petroleum products and costs billions of dollars to the economy.

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