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Piracy in Africa's Gulf of Guinea leaves 2 dead

Rise in piracy makes West Africa's coast off Nigeria dangerous.
Nigerian Navy vesselEnlarge
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 Wednesday to tackle a surge in piracy that has raised alarm in the shipping industry, with attacks seeing crews held hostage and fuel stolen. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Boston – Nigerian pirates opened fire on a cargo ship roughly 110 miles off the coast of Nigeria on Monday, killing the captain and chief engineer, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

"Armed pirates chased and fired upon a drifting bulk carrier. Vessel raised alarm and headed towards Lagos. All crew except the bridge team took shelter in the citadel," said the IMB Piracy Reporting Center.

"The captain and chief engineer died of their wounds as the pirates sprayed the ship with gunfire," said Cyrus Mody, an IMB official. 

More from GlobalPost: Pirates now hitting West African coast

The attack is one of three to have occurred in the gulf since Thursday, said the IMB, which is funded by shipowners, warning ships to steer clear of waters off Nigeria.

Agence France-Presse reported that Nigeria's navy spokesman, Kabir Aliyu, had no information regarding a rescue operation.

The IMB reported other recent attacks in the area that included a hijacked oil tanker south of Nigeria on Thursday. Nigerian vessels intercepted that ship and rescued all of its crew.

On Saturday another vessel reported being under attack, but escaped after a 25 minute pursuit.

These recent pirate attacks highlight how the Atlantic coast in the Gulf of Guinea have become dangerous from piracy. In September of 2011 the bureau warned that the seas off Benin, Nigeria's western neighbor, were becoming a "hotspot" in piracy due to the weak enforcement capabilities of regional governments. Earlier in August, London-based insurers Lloyd's Market Association listed Nigeria, Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as Somalia. 

In a fourth instance earlier on Wednesday, the Togolese Navy thwarted an attack against a petroleum tanker off its coast, according to a press release from the IMB. Togo lies west of Benin and Nigeria along the coast.

More from GlobalPost: Piracy 101: 13 things to know about African piracy

Inter Press Service (IPS) reported that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has risen dramatically, with more than 30 attacks occurring there last year compared to just one in 2010.

Map information provided by IMB Piracy Reporting Center.
View Instances of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea in a larger map

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