Weekly Maritime Security Report

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Somalia: Pirates attack merchant vessel off Baraawe

22 July

An unspecified number of pirates attacked a merchant vessel at 1722 hrs local time off the coast of Baraawe. Further details of the incident were not provided. The vessel was reported safe in the port of Baraawe.

PGI Analysis: Recent piracy incidents off the Somali coast have been concentrated in the Gulf of Aden and Bab el Mandeb, but occasional attacks have occurred off the coast of southern and central Somalia. The last reported incident of piracy off south-central Somalia was in February. In the attack, pirates in three skiffs opened fire on a merchant vessel approximately 158 nm off the coast of central Somalia, although other incidents may have gone unreported.



Togo: Attackers attempt to board merchant vessel off Lomé

22 July

A blue and white fishing boat approached a merchant vessel 278 nm south of Lomé at 1350 hrs local time before the boat dispatched two skiffs. The skiffs approached the vessel, reportedly in an attempt to board. The vessel carried out evasive manoeuvres, preventing them from coming within 0.5 nm. The vessel was reported as safe.

PGI Analysis: Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea have previously been concentrated off Nigeria in recent years, although pirates appear to have extended their area of operation beyond the waters off Nigeria in 2018 to include waters off Benin, Togo and Ghana. The increased geographic range of attacks has raised concerns that the risk to vessels is increasing in the wider Gulf of Guinea region.

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Afghanistan: Protesters cause disruption at Hairatan Port in Balkh

18 July

Protesters in Balkh forced the closure of the Hairatan commercial port and vowed to continue the disruption until the government accepts their demands. The protests come in support of the Junbish-e-Milli party, who are demanding the return to the country of the movement’s founder Abdul Rashid Dostum. A Jumbish Party official said that the port will remain closed for shipments from Uzbekistan and to government employees. Protests were launched two weeks ago in several provinces in northern Afghanistan after security forces arrested Nizamuddin Qaisari, the district police chief for Qaisar and close aide to Dostum.

Angola: Luanda annuls port deal over company links to Isabel Dos Santos

17 July

The government annulled a USD 1.5 bn contract to build Barra do Dande port in Luanda over the contractor Atlantic Ventures’ ties to former oil minister Isabel dos Santos. The company had been awarded the contract before former president and father of Isabel, José Eduardo dos Santos, had stepped down as president. Atlantic Ventures said it would seek compensation from the state for the annulment. President Joao Lourenco has significantly reduced the economic influence of the dos Santos family since taking office in September 2017.

Bangladesh: Robbers steal from container ship at Chittagong anchorage

19 July

Robbers boarded a Panama-flagged container ship anchored at Chittagong Outer Anchorage at 2300 hrs local time and stole three mooring ropes. The robbers escaped unnoticed although upon uncovering the theft, crew notified the Bangladesh Coast Guard who dispatched a patrol boat to the area and apprehended the assailants, who were still near the vessel.

Brazil: Police seize over 300 kg of cocaine in Guanabara Bay

23 July

The police seized 336 kg of cocaine aboard a shipping vessel in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro state. The narcotics were meant to be shipped to Europe, the police said. It was not immediately clear whether any arrests were made in the operation. Brazil is a major trafficking hub for drugs from other parts of the South American continent to Europe and there is a large network of international and local drug gangs operating throughout the country.

Iran: Khamenei supports threat to block Gulf

22 July

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement in support of President Hassan Rouhani’s earlier suggestion that Iran may block the Persian/Arab Gulf if it is unable to export oil. Earlier in July, Rouhani threatened to disrupt regional oil exports if US sanctions and pressure prevented Iran from selling crude. Iran has previously threatened to block the 54-km wide Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for US policies, a move that would affect seaborne oil shipments from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE.

Libya: Coast guard intercepts 160 migrants off Khoms

17 July

The coast guard said it had intercepted 158 African migrants off the coast of the western town of Khoms. The migrants were given medical treatment before being transferred to a refugee camp in Khoms. Libya remains an important point of departure for migrants trying to reach European shores despite EU-backed measures against human trafficking.

North Korea: UN removes sanctions on military communications between Pyongyang, Seoul

16 July

The United Nations Committee on North Korea sanctions has approved a request by South Korea to allow military communication lines between the two countries, according to a Security Council diplomat. The committee will reportedly permit the use of materials and equipment including fibre optic cables, trucks, buses, petrol, engine oil and transmission fluid in the process of restoring the lines. The reported move comes after the two countries agreed to “completely restore military communication lines” during military talks on 14 June.

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