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.
    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

    No More Space Race for US, Rivalry Gives Way to Collaboration

    What began as a struggle for dominance in space between two world powers has changed entirely to one of joint efforts

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Move Over Millennials, Here Comes iGeneration

    How the first generation to be born, almost literally, with a smartphone in hand, might change America

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora