LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's navy killed six pirates and injured one other in its latest attack to try to stop the outlaws from expanding their territory in the Gulf of Guinea, a navy official said Wednesday.
The pirates engaged the navy in a gun battle late Sunday off the coast of Calabar in Nigerian and Cameroonian waters, said Delta state navy spokesman Lt. Delightsome Yohana. Nigeria's navy fired back, killing the six pirates, he said. The other attacker is getting treatment for injuries while in custody, he said.
The operation is the latest in a string of victories for the Nigerian navy that has amped up its presence offshore and bolstered it with support from its air forces. In the last two weeks the navy has killed 18 pirates in battles and arrested five, Yohana said.
"We've been building our efforts for a long time. We are putting all our time, effort and resources to ensure the pirates are captured," Yohana said.
Two days after an Aug. 15 hijacking in Nigerian waters, a joint team of ships and aircraft convinced the pirates to disembark from the tanker. During that time, however, the navy said that a gunfight ensued and 12 of the 16 pirates were killed. The other four are in custody, Yohana said.
In July, the agency that monitors piracy said that well-armed pirates are widening their area of operations and using new strategies in West Africa's oil-rich Gulf of Guinea. It said that while piracy is down in the rest of the world, the Gulf of Guinea has overtaken Somalia as the world's new hotspot, according to figures for the first six months of the year from the London-based International Maritime Bureau.
There are calls for a coalition of naval forces to patrol the strategic area, but naval forces from other countries in the Gulf of Guinea have said they don't have the same capacity as Nigeria to fight piracy.