Pirates boarded a shipping vessel and kidnapped nine crew members off the coast of Benin in West Africa early Saturday morning, according to J.J. Ugland, the Norwegian shipping company which owns the vessel.
The ship, named the MV Bonita, was anchored and awaiting berth at the Cotonou port to discharge a shipment of gypsum when the pirates boarded, J.J. Ugland said in a statement Sunday.
The remaining crew members contacted local authorities. The MV Bonita docked at the port later that day.
An emergency response team from J.J. Ugland is working with authorities on the case.
A report released in July from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a nonprofit devoted to fighting maritime crime, has called the Gulf of Guinea a “world piracy hotspot,” saying that the “seas around West Africa remain the world’s most dangerous for piracy.”
The report said 73% of all kidnappings at sea and 92% of hostage-takings took place in the Gulf of Guinea – off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon – from January to June this year.