Pirates have kidnapped 19 sailors after waylaying a Hong Kong flagged supertanker, Nave Constellation, loaded with oil. The ship owned by Navios Maritime Acquisition Corporation, was attacked during the evening hours of Dec. 3 while the ship was travelling through Nigerian waters.

The attack occurred roughly 60-70 nautical miles south (reports vary) of Nigeria’s Bonny Island Offshore Terminal, where the ship was stocked with cargo.

Seven crew members were left aboard the ship by the pirates.

According to reports, 18 of the kidnapped were Indian nationals. One was Turk.

Security firm Dryad Global believes the attack is part of a growing trend. Six incidents and four kidnappings have been recorded in the area in recent times.

The string of attacks suggests a well-armed and resourceful pirate action group, most likely operating from one or more “mothership”-type vessels, with other smaller, nimbler crafts at their disposal.

A representative for the tanker’s owner said the top concern was for the kidnapped crew, according to the New Indian Express.

Navios as Owners and Anglo-Eastern as Technical and Crew Managers’ prime concern is the safety and early return of the 19 persons taken by the pirate gang. All the appropriate authorities, including the Flag State, have been alerted and are responding and all the necessary action is being taken to secure their wellbeing and early release.”

After piracy died down in Somalia waters, West Africa has taken over as the Africa’s biggest piracy hotspot.

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Oil piracy is also big in the Gulf of Mexico, where the number of incidents is also on the rise, reports oilprice.com