10 Indians from hijacked ship rescued
The hijacked Indian oil tanker Maximus was released by pirates near the Ivory Coast, along with their captives, including 10 Indian sailors. The rescue operations by Indian authorities were undertaken with the help of Ghana's and Nigeria's navy . Two sailors, an Indian and a Pakistani, are still in captivity and are expected to be released in the next couple of days.
The Gulf of Guinea lies in the Eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Africa, a region with vast oil and mineral deposits. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is rampant, fuelled primarily by rebel groups operating out of Nigeria, Africa's most populous country and largest petroleum producer. Pirates steal oil cargo and sell it in the black market for profits.
In 2012, attacks by West African pirates reached a world high surpassing attacks in the Indian Ocean, with 966 seafarers being attacked that year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
The Nigerian government, led by President Jonathan Goodluck, initiated the Presidential Amnesty Progam (PAP), an amnesty deal with Niger delta militants to reduce unrest within the country. Under the deal, rebels willing to surrender their arms were granted unconditional pardon and other incentives such as cash payments. The PAP effectively reduced militant activity in Nigeria, allowing the country's petroleum industry to prosper.
The Presidential Amnesty Program, aimed at disarming rebels, proved costly for the Nigerian government, leading the new Nigerian president Buhari to announce plans to roll back the amnesty deal by December 2015. The announcement led to a resurgence in rebel and pirate attacks to coerce the government to extend the deal. in 2016, 32 kidnappings were reported between January 14th and 29th alone.
The Indian oil tanker Maximus was hijacked by pirates, 76 nautical miles off Abidjan in the Ivory Coast at night. A group of six pirates reportedly boarded the ship and took 11 Indian crew members and a Pakistani as hostages. The Indian authorities requested the Ghana and Nigeria navy to follow the hijacked ship. Meanwhile, another fuel carrier was attacked off Bonny Island, Nigeria.
The Burhani government conceded to the Nigerian rebels' demands and extended the amnesty deadline to 2017, in an effort to rein in the increasing rebel-led piracy attacks on foreign ships.