Four Nigerian navy members were killed and two Russians and an Indian national, crew members of an oil tanker, were kidnapped last week by suspected pirates, security sources said on Monday.
Armed assailants boarded the oil dredger MV Ambika on Thursday evening while docked off the Niger Delta, a source with Nigerian security services told AFP.
« A rescue team was dispatched to rescue the crew, but when they arrived on the ship, the pirates opened fire and killed four of the members of the navy, » said the same source, under cover of anonymity.
« The gunmen managed to kidnap two Russians and an Indian who were among the eight crew members on board the ship, » he added.
A nearby naval officer confirmed the incident to AFP, explaining that the four coffins of the killed sailors had been brought ashore.
Maritime security analysts Dryad Global said the attack occurred three nautical miles (3.5 miles and 5.5 kilometers) from the coast.
« Incidents in this area occur with relative regularity, but they are generally found in creeks and rivers, » said the safety report.
« The majority of incidents that occur in this region are generally targeted at personnel who manage the oil windfall, or against local populations, » said Dryad Global.
The waters off Nigeria are among the most dangerous in the world and boat attacks and kidnappings are relatively frequent: pirates sometimes hijack ships for several days, time to loot the holds, and demand large ransoms before to release the crew.
For the first nine months of last year, the International Maritime Bureau, the international body for safety at sea, recorded 82% of the kidnappings of crews worldwide off the Gulf of Guinea.
Last week, a Greek tanker anchored off a nearby Cameroon port was taken by storm by a group of « armed » people who kidnapped the captain and seven of his crew.