News / Africa

American Cases Highlight Piracy Risks in Africa

FILE - A crew of U.S. sailors and Nigerian special forces fighters prepares to board the NNS Burutu for a training exercise as worries mount of increasingly violent pirate attacks along the West African coast.
FILE - A crew of U.S. sailors and Nigerian special forces fighters prepares to board the NNS Burutu for a training exercise as worries mount of increasingly violent pirate attacks along the West African coast.
TEXT SIZE - +
Pamela Dockins
— Two cases this week involving American piracy victims in Africa have highlighted the maritime dangers in the region. However, maritime experts say there are significant differences in the causes and response to piracy off the coast of Somalia and incidents in the troubled Gulf of Guinea, near Nigeria.
 
A judge in Norfolk, Virginia has ordered Somali national Ahmed Muse Salad to serve 19 consecutive life sentences for his role in the 2011 murders of four Americans.
 
Salad was among a group of Somali pirates who boarded a yacht carrying its American owners and two crew members off Africa's east coast. The four Americans were shot and killed after negotiations with the U.S. navy broke down.
 
In another case, the State Department said two Americans who were kidnapped by pirates off Nigeria's coast last month have been freed. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki welcomed their release, but provided few details.
 
"For privacy reasons, we will not provide any additional information on the two individuals or the circumstances of their release," said Psaki.
 
The International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center reports that the overall number of piracy attacks near Somalia has dropped over the past year, largely due to increased naval patrols.
 
There were 11 reported incidents of piracy near Somalia, including two hijackings, between January and October of this year.
 
Around the waters of Nigeria, there were 30 reported incidents in the same period, including two hijackings.
 
James Bridger, a maritime security consultant with Delex Systems, said that what is often referred to as piracy near Nigeria is actually an extension of criminal behavior on shore.
 
“In the Gulf of Guinea as a whole it is, at its lowest level, it is simply robbing ships at anchor, at berth. That’s a really opportunistic affair. You also have kidnap for ransom both on land and at sea,” explained Bridger.
 
Bridger pointed out that many of the security measures that have been effective in curbing piracy off Somalia's coast do not exist in the Gulf of Guinea.
 
"For one, armed guards are not allowed inside of the territorial waters of Nigeria in particular, or really any state in West Africa. You can have armed guards outside of the 12 miles, [the] 12 nautical mile territorial limit, but as soon as they go inside, their weapons have to be under lock and key. And, if they are going into Nigeria, which is the most dangerous, they can’t have weapons at all," said Bridger.
 
Bridger said one of the few options for shipping companies in the region is to "rent" Nigerian security personnel.
 
Kevin Krick, the Senior Director of Security and Environment for APL, a global transportation company that does shipping in regions including Africa, notes that the extra security measures have a financial impact.
 
"It means we need to take additional measures to ensure that our vessels are safeguarded. So, there is a cost involved," said Krick.  
 
Krick said that his company is grateful for the naval counter-piracy measures that have been put in place to protect maritime commerce, which he says is a "life-blood" for industry.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid