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The modern pirates of West Africa and Somalia are no swashbuckling buccaneers. They are maritime bandits, disrupting some of the world's busiest shipping lanes and costing the global economy billions. Recently, they've stepped up their brutality. What caused this piracy? How can it be stopped? GlobalPost investigates.

Pirates west africa somalia nigeria
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (C) stands onboard a Dutch Amphibious Assault warfare ship part of the EU Naval Force off the coast of Mogadishu on September 5, 2013. The ship, part of the EU naval taskforce whose role is to thwart any potential pirate attacks in the region. (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Pirates kidnap two US sailors off Nigerian coast: Security sources

Pirates have attacked an oil supply vessel off the Nigerian coast and kidnapped the captain and chief engineer, both US citizens, security sources said.

ABUJA/LONDON (Reuters) - Pirates have attacked an oil supply vessel off the Nigerian coast and kidnapped the captain and chief engineer, both US citizens, security sources said on Thursday.

Pirate attacks off Nigeria's coast have jumped by a third this year as ships passing through West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, a major commodities route, have increasingly come under threat from gangs wanting to snatch cargoes and crews.

The US-flagged, C-Retriever, owned by US marine transport group Edison Chouest Offshore, was attacked in the early hours of Wednesday, UK-based security firm AKE and two security sources said. The company was not immediately available for comment.

In a separate incident, three Nigerian soldiers were killed on Tuesday when armed robbers attacked a vessel carrying construction workers in the creeks of oil-producing Rivers state, the army said on Thursday.

Unlike the dangerous waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa on the east coast of Africa, through which ships now speed with armed guards on board, many vessels have to anchor to do business off West African countries, with little protection.

This makes them a soft target for criminals and jacks up insurance costs. Kidnapped sailors and oil workers taken in Nigerian waters are usually released after a ransom is paid.

(Reporting by Joe Brock in Abuja and Jonathan Saul in London; additional reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/131024/pirates-kidnap-two-us-sailors-nigerian-coast-sources