Pirates suspected to be from Nigeria have within the last 48 hours launched a series of attacks on three vessels operating within the West African coast of Ghana.
Five persons – one Ghanaian, a Greek, and three Korean nationals – are being held hostage by the pirates who are yet to make any demands or contact with the Ghanaian authorities.
Officials of Ghana’s Navy told 3news.com on Wednesday evening the three vessels, made up of a tanker and two fishing vessels, were hijacked on Ghanaian waters but were later abandoned on high seas due to fuel issues.
A total of five persons were taken hostage in the three attacks.
Authorities confirmed the first attacked was launched on a fishing vessel from the anchorage area of the Tema Harbour, an incident that has shocked Navy officials.
“What we are witnessing here today [Wednesday] is an attack on various vessels at sea. For the past 48 hours since Monday dawn, we have had series of attacks, which we are trying to unravel,” Commodore James O. Kontoh who is in charge of Ghana’s Eastern Naval Command told TV3.
Preliminary investigation, he said, has established the attacks are “very much connected”
“It all started Monday dawn around 3:30am when a speedboat came to the Tema anchorage area and then forcefully took over a vessel,” Commodore Kontoh said.
He said the pirates were about 11 in number and “had so many jerry cans of fuel for them to be able to make the journey from Nigeria to Ghana”
The pirates were said to have ordered the vessel to “weigh anchor” which was complied with after which they took control and sailed east towards Ghana-Togo border
Crew of the vessel, according to authorities, complained there was not enough fuel to continue the journey.
Commodore Kontoh said the pirates “abandoned the vessel, hijacked another one. [The pirates] carried three personnel from that vessel into the newly hijacked vessel”
The second hijacked vessel, which was tanker, was ordered to head towards Bayelsa in Nigeria, Naval authorities said.
But not long the second vessel also complained of insufficient fuel to make the journey “and when the hijackers realised that, they went into another fishing vessel”.
According to Commodore Kontoh, the pirates took hostage two people each from the first and second vessels and joined the third hijacked vessel which was asked to move towards Benin waters.
“Then during the cover of the night, they carried these five people they have hijacked, sped away in their speedboat and these fishing vessels were able to send distress signal so we dispatched vessels out there to go and shadow them,” Commodore Kontoh said.
He revealed there have been recent attempts by the pirtates to penetrate the Ghanaian waters, which he said the Ghana Navy managed to prevent but was surprising that Monday’s attack “took everybody unaware”
“What we are telling the vessels at anchorage is that they should always keep in touch with the port security, with the navy, the police marine so that we will be able to ensure their safety,” he advised.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana