The Liberian Coast Guard has rescued 23 crew from a Chinese fishing vessel that was hijacked off the country’s coastline.
The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) said in a statemen that the Sierra Leone Navy Joint Maritime Operation Centre received an alert on 23 July that the Shenghai-2 had been hijacked with six Chinese and 17 Sierra Leonean sailors on board. The fishing vessel Aliman was also attacked in the same area on 22 July.
In collaboration with Cote d’Ivoire, the Shenghai-2 was spotted crossing over to Liberia from Sierra Leone. A 28-hour operation was carried out on 23/24 July, with two Liberian Coast Guard boats sent to intercept the hijacked vessel, which was boarded. Although the pirates fired on Coast Guard personnel, three pirates escaped on a life raft and one was captured on board while several crew were rescued, leaving several pirates holding the remaining crew hostage.
After negotiations with the remaining pirates failed, the Coast Guard members broke into the vessel and freed the remaining crew. Four weapons were recovered. The vessel was secured and brought to port.
Following the attack, Sierra Leone said it is working with neighbouring states to step up the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. “We are looking at how to curb the menace in the region,” Sierra Leone’s Navy Chief Commodore Philip Juana told The Associated Press. He said officials will engage with counterparts in Liberia on future “operational strategy” against piracy.
The Gulf of Guinea has recorded at least three pirate attacks in recent months, including in April, when pirates targeted a Chinese-run oil tanker.