Pirates attack Swiss cargo ship off Nigeria, 12 crew members kidnapped

A group of pirates attacked a Swiss cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria on Saturday, kidnapping 12 crew members in a region that has seen dozens of similar attacks so far this year.

The MV Glarus was carrying wheat between Lagos and Port Harcourt when it was attacked and boarded by pirates, who took 12 of the 19 crew members, the ship's operator said.

The pirates boarded the vessel about 45 nautical miles southwest of Bonny Island using long ladders, and cut razor wire on the deck to make their way to the bridge, where they destroyed much of the ship's communications equipment.

"The company is working with the authorities and specialists to secure the speedy and safe release of those being held,” Massoel Shipping said in a statement to Sky News.

The Swiss foreign ministry said Sunday that none of those kidnapped were from Switzerland, and did not disclose the nationalities. Nigeria’s Navy told Reuters it was investigating the incident.

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Kidnapping for ransom has become a major problem in Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region where the country's crude oil operations are based.

In August, security firm EOS Risk Group said there had been 34 Nigerian pirate attacks on merchant and fishing vessels in the Gulf of Guinea between January and June this year, according to Sky News.

The firm warned that piracy is expected to increase in the run up to the country's general election in February, as instability in the region grows.