Weekly Maritime Security Report

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Guinea: Armed pirates board merchant vessel at Conakry anchorage

17 September

At least four armed pirates boarded an anchored merchant vessel via the anchor chain at 0300 hrs local time at an anchorage at the Port Autonome de Conakry. The master raised the alarm, locked the accommodation and crew mustered in the citadel. The robbers opened fire at the bridge windows and gained access to accommodation before ransacking crew cabins and escaping with their personal belongings. All crew were reported as safe.

PGI Analysis: Violent crime is periodically reported at Conakry port and the attack comes days after a robbery and kidnap attempt targeting a vessel at Conakry anchorage on 8 September. Criminals are often undeterred by basic security measures and vessels are advised to take additional precautions in Guinean waters. Robbers typically target a crew’s personal belongings, although cargo thefts are occasionally reported.


Argentina: Workers occupy shipyard building in La Plata

13 September

Workers at Rio Santiago shipyard occupied the company’s ETE Ensenada facilities in La Plata, Buenos Aires metropolitan area. The workers protested against the permanent closure of some of the shipyard’s facilities and reportedly prevented a government negotiator and some of the shipyard’s administrative staff from leaving the building. The protest comes three weeks after an employee protest at the shipyard turned violent, injuring at least 12 police officers.

Cameroon: Navy seizes weapons, mercenaries heading to Anglophone region

13 September

The navy reportedly seized three Nigerian vessels with weapons and mercenaries on board intended to support separatists in the Anglophone regions, Jeune Afrique reported. The seizure occurred on 6-7 September. The navy seized an unspecified number of Kalashnikov-style rifles, 12-gauge shotguns and ammunition. A navy spokesperson said the mercenaries planned a “large-scale” attack on 15 September. The incident marks the first reported seizure of weapons intended for the Anglophone conflict at sea.

Costa Rica: general strike enters sixth day, affects exports at Moin port

14 September

Thousands of public sector workers engaged in strike action for a sixth day, with the unrest causing significant disruption to operations at Moin port. The port, which transits 85 percent of Costa Rica’s perishable cargo, has seen operations limited to six hours per day and has already lost an estimated USD 45 mn due to delays. The strike, triggered by proposed tax reforms, began peacefully on 10 September but has since escalated to see violent clashes between protesters and police forces across the country, leading to tens of arrests.

Indonesia: Ferry accident leaves 13 people dead off the coast of Sulawesi

15 September

At least 13 people have been killed and eight remain missing after a ferry caught fire and sank off the coast of Sulawesi province, an official said. Singapore’s Strait Times newspaper reported that the boat was believed to be carrying almost 150 passengers when the blaze started. Authorities rescued 126 people from the area but search and rescue operations are ongoing for the remaining passengers. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. The incident comes after more than 160 people died when a ferry sank in Lake Toba in western Indonesia in June.

Japan: Tokyo conducts first submarine drill in South China Sea

17 September

Japan carried out its first submarine drill in the South China Sea, Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun said. A submarine reportedly joined three warships in waters southwest of the China-controlled Scarborough Shoal, the newspaper said. Tensions have been high over the Scarborough Shoal since Beijing seized the shoal from Manila in 2012. China claims most of the South China Sea, which is a key trade route, despite competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Malaysia: Customs authorities seize USD 4.2 mn of cigarettes, alcohol at Sibu port

14 September

Customs officials in Sarawak seized 45 containers of cigarettes and alcohol with a street value of USD 4.2 mn from a barge which had sailed from Ho Chi Minh City to dock at Sibu port. Fourteen crew members, all Indonesian nationals, were arrested following the seizure. Contraband seizures at Sibu port are common, with the port serving as a major distribution point for smuggled goods entering the Malaysian black market.

Mexico: Authorities seize 2,200 kg of cocaine off Mexico’s west coast

11 September

Officials from the Mexican Police and Coast Guard, in a joint operation with US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) personnel, seized 2,200 kg of cocaine from a boat off the coast of Oaxaca state. Officials arrested eight people on drug trafficking charges including four Mexican nationals, three Colombians and a Canadian. Police believe the drugs belonged to the Sinaloa Cartel. Washington considers the Sinaloa Cartel to be the primary drug trafficking organisation in the Americas.

Philippines : Manila secures release of three Indonesian hostages

16 September

The government worked with a rebel group to secure the release of three Indonesian hostages. Police reported that the Moro National liberation Front, a former rebel group that is at peace with the government, assisted in the release of the hostages from Sulu in the southern Philippines. The three Indonesian nationals were kidnapped off the coast of Malaysia’s Sabah by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen in early 2017. It was not immediately clear whether a ransom was paid for the release. Three Indonesian fishermen seized on 11 September remain missing. There is a threat of kidnap-for-ransom in Sabah and nearby areas, including Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan provinces.

Qatar: Customs agents seize drugs from boat

15 September

Members of the Qatari customs and security services seized 5.7 kg of hashish and 400 tramadol tablets concealed in a wooden boat. The location of the seizure was not disclosed but authorities said that the vessel came from an unnamed Asian county and was bound for Ruwais port in the UAE. Authorities said that they had observed an increase in maritime seizures since local ports had begun to accept more food shipments because of the ongoing Saudi and Emirati-led boycott of Qatar.

Tunisia: Coast guard intercepts Libyan boat over illegal fishing in southeast

17 September

The coast guard intercepted a Libyan fishing vessel and detained three Egyptian crew members over illegal fishing of the southeastern coast, the ministry of defence said. The vessel, which had illegally entered Tunisian territorial waters, was intercepted near the maritime border between the two countries and taken to Lektef port.

Tunisia: Coast guard foils immigration attempt off Sfax

11 September

The coast guard intercepted seven would-be migrants aboard a vessel off the northeastern city of Sfax, local media reported, citing security sources. Security forces arrested all the people on board, who had been trying to reach Italian shores, and seized the vessel. Attempts to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe are common in Tunisia, which suffers from high unemployment.

Yemen: Coalition warships kill 18 civilians in Red Sea

16 September

Saudi-led coalition warships shelled a boat in the Red Sea near al-Khoka, south of Hodeidah in western Yemen, according to local media reporting on 18 September. The alleged shelling occurred on 16 September and killed at least 19 fishermen from al-Qadha village in al-Khoha according to local media. Civilian casualties in Saudi-led coalition operations have provoked widespread international criticism.


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