Sierra Leone said Thursday it is working with neighboring countries to step up the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea after a Chinese fishing vessel was hijacked in its waters earlier this week.
The area off the coast of West Africa is one of the world’s most dangerous places for attacks on ships.
Twenty-three crew members on board Shenghai-2, including six Chinese nationals, were rescued a day after the hijacking on Sunday. The ship was sailing with another fishing vessel, Aliman, when both came under attack by heavily armed pirates, Sierra Leone’s Navy Chief Commodore Philip Juana told The Associated Press.
Aliman evaded seizure while the attackers sailed the hijacked vessel toward neighboring Liberia. The following day, the ship was freed and some of the pirates were caught by Liberian forces, Juana said.
"We are looking at how to curb the menace in the region," he added. Sierra Leone officials will engage with counterparts in Liberia on future "operational strategy" against piracy, he added.
In June last year, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning piracy, armed robbery and hostage-taking in the Gulf of Guinea. The area has recorded at least three pirate attacks in recent months, including in April, when pirates targeted a Chinese-run oil tanker.
In Liberia, the Ministry of National Defense said in an earlier statement the rescue effort lasted for more than 24 hours and ended on Monday. It included a coordinated operation that also involved the neighboring Cote d’Ivoire.
Two pirates were arrested while some weapons were recovered, the ministry said. An unspecified number of other pirates who were involved in the attack has evaded arrest.
Juana, the navy chief, said Sierra Leone and Liberia are investigating the hijacking.