West Africa Pirates Spur Ship Lines to Seek Military Help



William Clowes | Bloomberg

West Africa’s pirates began 2021 as they ended 2020, by pulling off audacious abductions far from shore that sent new shudders across the shipping industry.

The Gulf of Guinea, a vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Senegal to Angola, is the source of ever-greater anxiety for shipowners, operators and their crews. Last year, the region’s waters accounted for 95% of the 135 hostages seized worldwide, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau.

The kidnappings — in more than 20 separate incidents — are intensifying the shipping industry’s demands that more be done to make piracy riskier for the increasingly sophisticated criminals. Maersk, the world’s leading container line, says the threat level has become unacceptable and an effective military response is necessary.

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