Nigeria: German Killed, Pirates Hijack Gunboat

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Gunmen killed a German man and kidnapped a second in southwest Nigeria, police said Tuesday as the military reported that pirates in the oil-rich south hijacked a police gunboat and killed three officers.

Armed men attacked a group of workers for Julius Berger Nigeria construction company as they were being driven to work in southwest Ogun state on Friday, police Assistant Superintendent Abimbola Oyeyemi told The Associated Press.

One German was shot and killed in the attack and “we are working 24 hours round the clock to free the abducted German and arrest the criminals,” he said.

Another German national has been kidnapped in northern Nigeria, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on Monday.

“There is no new information at the moment on that case,” he said.

Kidnappings in the north usually are carried out by Boko Haram Islamic extremists or a breakaway group called Ansaru. Foreign hostages generally are released unharmed once a ransom is paid.

Meanwhile, pirates attacked a police gunboat escorting a barge-load of oil for the Nigerian Agip Oil Company in southern Niger Delta, also on Friday.

Three police officers were killed and the pirates hijacked the gunboat, according to the Joint Task force spokesman, Col. Mustapha Anka. The barge was not attacked. That happened on the Barbara River in Bayelsa state, Anka said.

On Oct. 23, the Bayelsa police command reported that six Nigerians working for Agip had been kidnapped by pirates.

Piracy in Nigeria is aimed at oil theft and kidnapping for ransom and cost the nation some $131 million in the past three years, according to the Contemporary Maritime Piracy Database.

While piracy has gone down in the rest of world and especially in Somalia since a multinational force was deployed, it has increased in Nigeria. Last year, Nigerian pirates and armed robbers were blamed for 31 of 51 attacks in the region, including in waters far from home off Gabon, Ivory Coast and Togo, according to the International Maritime Bureau.- SHIPPING TRIBUNE

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