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Two kidnapped in pirate attack off Nigerian coast

Piracy in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea threatens local and world economies.

Nigeria ship piracy gulfEnlarge
A ship of the Nigerian navy, one of three ships taking part in a joint counter-piracy patrol by the Nigerian and Benin navies, patrols the sea off the coast of Contonou on September 28, 2011. Benin and Nigeria launched joint sea patrols last year to fight the surge in piracy that has raised alarm in the shipping industry. (STR /AFP/Getty Images)

Two crewmembers were kidnapped and another injured Tuesday, in the latest pirate attack off the west coast of Africa, BBC reports.

A third crewmember is missing, after eight armed men attacked the Dutch-owned cargo ship. The ship’s captain and engineer were taken in a speed boat, when the pirates escaped after robbing the crew, the AP reports. Nigerian authorities are currently investigating.

Piracy watchdog groups say attacks off Africa’s west coast have become more frequent, and more violent in recent months.

“We urge ships to be vigilant at all times,” Noel Choong, who heads the reporting center for the International Maritime Beureau in Kuala Lumpur, told the AP. “Please go for direct berthing at port instead of anchoring, or stay very far away from coast.”

More from GlobalPost: Pirates now hitting West African coast

Two weeks ago, pirates fired on another ship off the coast of Nigeria, killing the captain and chief engineer. The attack was one of three reported in the span of a week.

Africa's west coast combined with Somali waters now make up the majority of pirate attacks in the world, according to the International Maritime Bureau. The agency says in 2011 there were 439 pirate attacks, 275 of which took place off Somalia on the east coast and in the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa.

More from GlobalPost: Piracy in Africa's Gulf of Guinea leaves 2 dead

Pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria and Benin often go un-reported, the IMB says. Last year, 10 pirate attacks were reported off Nigeria’s coast, but authorities believe there were 34 additional incidents.

“While 10 attacks were reported in Nigeria, including two hijackings,” reads an IMB report. “This number is not representative of the real threat of Nigeria piracy. Underreporting of attacks in Nigeria continues to be a cause for concern.”

Abdel-Fatau Musah, director of political affairs for the commission of the West Africa regional group ECOWAS, said while countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Senegal have been taking steps to secure their waters, most don’t have the capacity to operate far offshore, the AP reports.

Musah said piracy in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea encourages other forms of organized crime, like drug trade, human trafficking and terrorism.

“The consequences of unchecked piracy on both [west African] economies and the world economy cannot be underestimated,” he said, according to the AP.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120229/two-kidnapped-pirate-atttack-nigerian-coast